Google rolled out a new feature yesterday integrating Google Reader Shared Items with Google Talk. The idea behind it is that you can add your fellow GMail users to your shared items feed via Google Talk, so that they receive those Reader items you’ve shared. Robert Scoble’s initial reaction to it was “Cool, Google Reader added a Social Network!“. My initial reaction to it was a little different — I’m already frustrated by the number of duplicates I get in the Shared Items feeds I subscribe to, especially when I’m having a ton of trouble getting ahead of what I’m reading already.
It didn’t take some folks (including Scoble) long to figure out that duplication was annoying, and even with a workaround that doesn’t feel like a workaround really (reading “Friends’ shared items ahead of “All items”), it’s still annoying.
But none of that is the reason I won’t make Scoble my newest Google friend. Here’s the reason: In addition to the Web 2.0 reading I do, I have folders for education, health, ADHD, politics, web design, friends, media, software, legal, women’s issues, and parenting. Do I really think Scoble wants to read my shared item on MRSA? No, not really. I can’t imagine that having a ton of value for him. Also, in Robert Scoble’s areas of interest, he is far more up to date than I am — it’s his JOB and it’s my interest. If I added him as a friend I would always have a concern that I was pushing shared items that I thought were cool and he thought were irrelevant spam. I don’t want to start censoring what I share by who might be reading my shared items or what they might think.
Here are my suggestions for the Google Reader Team:
- Allow friends to read our shared items by label rather than the entire feed. By tagging/labeling items, we can allow our friends to choose only those shared items of mutual interest.
- Figure out a way to really eliminate duplicates. For example, I read Mashable, Read/Write/Web, and Robert Scoble’s shared items. It drives me crazy to see the Mashable post I just read show up in Robert’s shared items. I don’t always read “All Items”; in fact, I’ve organized my feeds into folders so I can leave the politics for when I have time and read the Web2.0 stuff in real time. It works for me, until I hit a gazillion duplicates of something I’ve already read. So Google, if you know I subscribe to Mashable, get rid of the shared Mashable items in Robert’s feed for me, okay?
Robert, you’re a nice guy, but you really don’t want to be my friend. Trust me.