August 10, 2008

Feedheads Breaks Out of Facebook to Compete In Shared Items Arena

Before ReadBurner, LinkRiver and RSSmeme arrived, there was only one game in town when it came to calculating the most popular shared items in Google Reader, and it was Feedheads. Feedheads, the popular Facebook application created by Mario Romero, harnessed the power of Google Reader to show the total number of shares each item had, displays which of your friends shared the item, and even what items were popular in a network (like "Silicon Valley", for instance).

But while ReadBurner and RSSmeme were gaining traction outside the walled garden of Facebook, and gathering a good deal of visibility from bloggers who liked their democratized view of finding "hot" stories, Feedheads remained less visible, available only on Facebook. That all changed tonight, as Romero has brought Feedheads to, featuring the same functionality, but now available on the Internet at large.

As with ReadBurner and RSSmeme, the top shared sources include popular sites like comics from XKCD, Lifehacker, TechCrunch and Gizmodo.

The new is spartan in terms of its look and feel, but you can view the top shared items over the last 7 days, the last 24 hours, see newly shared items, popular tags, and feeds.

Feedheads also does more than just count the feeds. It can also show who shared the item, by clicking on the number of shares, and it shows shared Google notes, something RSSmeme has held to itself thus far.

You can even log in with your Facebook credentials and see your own sharing history, at, which effectively automatically gives you your own "leaderboard" of shared items, much like I rolled out late last month, only instead of the last 30 days, it shows your cumulative history from the first time you installed Feedheads.

I've often written about the interesting space of tabulating shared items in Google Reader, and the intrigue of Feedheads, having read about it on other blogs, was a big reason I eventually joined Facebook in the first place. After starting out by showing itself in Facebook as simply "Google Reader", the service rebranded as Feedheads in October, and rapidly grew to a user base of more than 10,000 by December of last year. Unfortunately, more recent statistics are unavailable, but breaking out of Facebook is a big step in the right direction for Mario.

The success of both ReadBurner and RSSmeme has shown there's room enough for more than one player in this space, especially as each site has differentiated itself through a series of innovations. was the original player in this space, and Mario led the way in trying to make order where there was none before. Now, out of the walled garden, it should be interesting to see what innovations he has planned next.