July 15, 2009

Google Reader Improves Link Blog Discovery, Security, Adds Likes

Google Reader, for more than two years, has played a central role both in terms of how I discover information and how I distribute information. It is through Google Reader that I get updated from hundreds of blogs and news sources, and through a shared link blog that I can parse out what I believe to be the best content, sharing it to friends I am connected to on the service, and off to third party social sites including Socialmedian, ReadBurner, FriendFeed and RSSmeme. But so far it's been difficult to find somebody's shares, obscured by a hard-to-figure-out URL. Today, Google Reader has made steps to enable faster discovery of people and topics, all within Reader.

The news, which hit this afternoon, is that you can now search within Google Reader for people who have public shared items and subscribe to their shares with a single click. The new search feature, powered by Google Profiles, lets you browse by name, location or topic.

Searching for the name "Clinton" to find new link blogs

But, if you don't want to have your shared items broadcast to the world at large, you can still keep your shares private, or even share items to a specific group of contacts. These contact groups are the same you manage in your GMail, so changes on either service will be synchronized.

Selectively Share Between Groups

As link blogs have risen in importance, alongside your other social activity, from your blog to microblogging, etc., Google Reader has made it even more simple to highlight your link blog on your Google Profile, with a simple check box. So if you hadn't already added your items to your Profile manually, this will take care of it.

Adding shared items to the Google Profile with a checkbox

Similar to Facebook's recent move with vanity URLs, you can now also have your shared link blog feature your own Google user name, which can be enabled in your profile. So now, instead of a number like "05763917848110205585" which I have always had, mine can just say "louisgray".

You can now "Like" Shared Items In Link Blogs

And don't think Google Reader isn't watching what is happening on other networks. The team has added on to the ability for friends to make comments on your shared items, enabling a "Like" feature, found not just on Facebook, but on FriendFeed and Socialmedian as well. So now, if you see a friend's shared item, and you like it, just click like, or hit the "L" key. So if you're a keyboard maven, you hit J to go forward, K to go back, and L to like. More work for your right ring finger. Interestingly, all "likes" are public, while comments on shared items are still only shared with friends. So if you like something, others reading the shared link blog can find out you are a fan as well.

I have long been a fan of shared link blogs, and have even encouraged companies to get into the act to show they are listening to the news and opinions in the industry. My Google Reader shared link blog is a major reason of why I've never left Google Reader for an alternative, and making the feeds discoverable should be a helpful boost to visibility. You can find my shared link blog here.

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