Google Reader Gets Social With Friends Shared Items
Google’s made a significant move toward trying to have a
Facebook-like news feed
and beef up its social networking aspirations by
integrating Google Talk / Gmail contacts with Google Reader. I’d seen the
discussion earlier, but
after now experiencing it first-hand, it’s kind of scary that it isn’t more
opt-in rather than opt-out.
When I logged in today, I got this message popping-up within Google Reader:
I was a bit taken aback. Let’s look again at what it tells me:
Your Reader shared items are being made available to your friends from Google
Talk. You can see what these friends are sharing; they can see what you are
sharing, and that you use Reader.
Really? Without asking me, items are being shared? And my friends are now
flowing stuff my way?
Thinking about it more, I shouldn’t be concerned. After all, I have a public
feed of shared items
anyone can access, if they know where to look. Why should these exact same
items, being shared with a tiny subset of the entire world that they are already
accessible to, freak me out?
I guess it’s because Google Reader never asked if I wanted to be connected
with my friends, i.e., whether I wanted to have Google itself start
behind-the-scenes making relationships in Google Reader for me with people that
previously were restricted to chat. It’s disconcerting.
Don’t get me wrong — it IS kind of cool. For example, here’s an example of
how by clicking on the new Friends Shared Items link, I can see a list of items
that have been shared only by my Google Talk contacts.
I’ve also got the ability using the new Friends tab in the Google Reader
settings area to add or remove people:
Well, sort of. If you check the associated help
page, it turns out that to remove someone, you have to remove them as a
Gmail/Google Talk contact. Wow. How about some selective control? I might want
to have "Reader friends" that are different than my Google Talk friends.
Part of the new change was also encouragement for me to create one of the new
Google Profile pages.
I did that, but in terms of Google Reader, it doesn’t provide any benefit to my
external public feed. It doesn’t show out there.
Internally, I assume my friends see something similar to what I see for Greg
Notice that if for some reason I decide I’ve had enough of Greg — say
perhaps he begins dominating my Friends Shared Items feed in some
Scobleesque way — I have the option to hide him and his items.
Overall, I do like the feature. I just think that if Google is going to start
socializing its various applications, I need more granular control over who
sees what, in the way that Facebook offers.
Meanwhile, add Google Reader, like Orkut, to the list of Google products that now
have a social aspect.
Google To Pressure Facebook To "Free" Social Data & Planning Google Earth World?
from me back in September looked at how Google was said to be considering ways
to socialize its products. At that time, Google Reader had no social feature.
Now it does.
Inbox 2.0: Vision And
Perhaps Confusion At Google And Yahoo covers more about how the email
addresses that Google has — all Google Talk accounts are based on an email
address — may be a key way the company might go forward to building out a stronger
social network than its existing Orkut.
(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)
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