Google Reader sharing = kind of lame

Google has launched a couple of new features for Google Reader, including the ability to share items with friends even when they aren’t in an RSS feed — through a bookmarklet like the ones that Facebook and about a gazillion other sites have — as well as the ability to add “notes” to the items that you’re sharing from within Reader. I think these baby steps (and they are baby steps) are a nice addition to Google Reader, and a year ago they might have even been groundbreaking, but next to the kind of things that FriendFeed and others are doing with sharing and commenting, they actually look kind of lame.

Don’t get me wrong — sharing things within Reader from a bookmarklet is a nice feature to have, although as Adam Ostrow (who also co-owns the new Readburner site, which is a community built around Reader shared items) notes at Mashable, there have been hacks that allowed you to do pretty much the same thing if you really wanted to. But I don’t really see the point of having the ability to add a note to what you’ve shared. Maybe I’m just missing the point (although I do like the fact that shared items now look different in your Reader items view).

One of the biggest problems with Google Reader is that it’s disconnected from everything. That was a problem with FriendFeed.com too, until the site — founded and run by former Googlers, including Paul Buchheit and Bret Taylor — added the ability to post comments back to Twitter while also keeping them within FriendFeed as well. I think that kind of cross-posting ability is a huge plus. One of the other irritants with Google Reader is that it adds people as your friends even if you’ve only emailed them once or twice (Google Chat does the same thing). That’s just dumb. In any case, GReader’s added features are nice, but they’re going to have to step up the pace a bit over at the Googleplex.

17 thoughts on “Google Reader sharing = kind of lame

  1. I'm not especially bullish on the “Notes” feature yet myself, though it will certainly be cool to aggregate that data on ReadBurner if it takes off. Cross-posting is what will make that feature much more interesting.

    However, as you note, I really like the bookmarklet – it pretty much kills the need for me to use del.icio.us, since I'm already doing most of my sharing/saving in Google Reader anyhow. With this, it's now officially my universal link blog.

    • I agree, Adam — although it's going to take awhile to replace
      del.icio.us, which is where I've got about 10,000 links stored. I'm
      going to have to try it out and see how it goes.

  2. I dunno. I agree that the changes are kinda mild, but they're not insignificant (I've been pushing for both for a while now). And Google has something FriendFeed doesn't–a lot of users. And when it comes to social networking, I think user numbers is the big deal (assuming you can meet a baseline of usability), and anything Google builds into Google Reader has a huge user base.

    That said, I would of course like more interactivity and better functionality. I'm hoping Google isn't done working on this stuff just yet.

    • I hope it isn't too, Jake — and I'm not suggesting user base doesn't
      matter, because it does. But I think features matter too. And don't
      get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of Google Reader — I basically gave up
      Netvibes for it, and the main reason was the sharing.

  3. I have to disagree with you on this. I really like this feature (no, I like important plugins to be folded back into the app (so that I can get rid of plugins) – see WordPress/wp-cache for why).

    Now, the stuff that shows lack of qualty:
    1. I can't edit posted notes
    2. Every time I add a note, it's a new shared item.
    3. The power of this note sharing comes alive, when it tracks conversation. eg. If I add a note to something Scoble shared, then create a thread.
    4. @adamstrow – cross posting would make it a killer feature (I can think of plugins for each blog that want to allow this kind of support)
    Come on google guys.. you can do better.

    • The fact that each item with a note creates a new shared item is
      definitely a problem, as Scoble has mentioned (on FriendFeed, of
      course). And I agree that threaded conversations based on notes —
      which are really comments — would be a great feature to have. Too bad
      Paul and the guys are building those into FF now instead of working
      for Google 🙂

      • Yeah, not to mention I'm seeing a ton of duplicates flow through the whole system because neither FriendFeed, nor Google Reader, understands how to combine duplicates into a single cluster.

        • That is definitely a pain, I agree, Robert — and on FriendFeed it
          gets to be an issue in all kinds of places, like when three writers at
          TechCrunch all post an update to FF saying that the same post has just
          been posted.

          • I am thinking a wordpress plugin, that will allow for cross syncing comments using microformats. I think this problem is easier address if done in co-operation with the source for a post. (ofcourse it will not work well with non-blogs)

            your thoughts?

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  5. I started writing a comment, but when I got to 300 words I thought I'd better do it as a blog post instead – it's at http://www.technovia.co.uk/2008/05/google-reade… 🙂

    The short version: FriendFeed is successful largely because it adds features that Twitter users have wanted for a long time, ie a proper threaded discussion view. It works for some people (like Robert) as a feed reader, because it's very “river of news” oriented (but if you don't like river of news, it's less useful).

    And Google actually already has a product which does everything that FriendFeed does, and more. It's called Jaiku – remember that? 🙂

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  8. There may be better or earlier tools out there that can do the same thing but I for one am glad they added it. See posts are supposed to be on one topic but rarely are. If I want to call attention to a specific part of the post or a particular quote, I can. I read a lot in Reader and would rather not have to switch to a different tool to have this ability. As a matter of fact I have signed up for other tools but went back to GR because it is the best tool for reading and sharing. This feature just made it better.

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