October 27, 2008

Google Reader Unveils Individual RSS Consumption Statistics

Google is sitting on a goldmine of data around RSS feed reading and consumption. As most universally accept that Google Reader is the most popular feed reader, Google likely has a plurality of information showing when bloggers post, when people read, and what the most popular feeds, items, etc. are. So far, despite having all this detail, the Google Reader team has been largely reticent to reveal their knowledge, choosing instead to promote RSS as a standard, rather than setting bloggers up with yet more ways to measure one another.

Today, a crack opened in the stone facade, as Google Reader delivered charts for every feed you are subscribed to, which shows when the feeds publish, by day, date and time, as well as how quickly you get to read the items themselves. The data, which leverages the last 30 days of activity, rather than the duration of the feed, or when you first subscribed, highlights the total posts per week, the total subscribers known to Google, and when the feed was last pinged. This part is not new.

Google Reader says Mondays have been busy here.

What is new are a set of bar charts showing what days bloggers post, what time of day they post, and when you read the pieces. The resulting charts can show gaps in a blogger's schedule, whether you wait hours to get a feed, or if they are filling your RSS in box overnight as you sleep.

Google Reader Shows Scoble Skips Days and then Spikes

For individual bloggers who post 1-2 items a day, you can see two or three day holes in their publishing, but for more high-volume sites, like Techmeme, TechCrunch, or Wired, for example, the resulting curve of information begins to take on a liquid form with fewer spikes. It's us individuals, who actually don't read RSS feeds 24 by 7, as much as we would like to, who have the holes in our consumption of that data.

Google Reader Shows Techmeme's Activity to be Fluid

To access this information, go to your Google Reader, click on the feed name of any item, and then click "Show Details" in the top right corner. Last 30 days will show what dates the author published (and you read it). Time of day will show the time the author published (in your time zone) and when you read it. Day of the week will show the day the author published (and when you read it).

We already had aggregate statistics, and now we have individual statistics by feed. It's tempting to guess what other mountains of data the Google Reader team is sitting on, and to wonder how we can tap in.