Skip to main content

I like Google Reader, but lukewarm on the "Like" in Google Reader

Google Reader (possibly the Google Product I use the most in terms of time spent/day for non-work related purposes) added a few social features; one of which allows you to "Like" an article.

I've always been a fan of Reader. It's help change how I consume content on the Internet and is one of the foundations of a lot of the social interactions I have on the Web.

So I understand the motivation behind this new feature and in a vacuum this is a reasonable, solid feature.
  • I get the difference in semantics between "like" and "share" (a feature already available) and actually think this feedback to the author isn't a bad idea, but c'mon! It is a trifle confusing; especially since clicking on the name of someone who liked an article leads to her shared feed (instead of a feed of things he liked)
Perhaps, this will be a successful attempt at building a social graph and encouraging social interaction within Google products, which traditionally...well.....have been only moderately successful at it, or it may work as a way for Reader users to discover new content from like-minded individuals, but these seems like reaches and I'm not convinced about either use cases.

For me in the short-run there are just two problems with using the product as is.
  • I have (almost)no friends on my Google social graph (i.e. Gmail contacts) so none of my friends are seeing this stuff I'm liking.
  • I've already invested in pulling stuff I share into Facebook and FriendFeed and that where I "like" stuff. In fact, the duplication on Facebook and Friendfeed is already annoying me (Facebook added the FriendFeed-ish functionality to its Wall, and despite my best efforts to resist it and keep all my activity on FriendFeed, it won.)
In an ideal world, I could "like" something anywhere and my endorsement along with my identity and possible comments would travel with the article (or video or post or image) everywhere.

I can think of a couple of technical solutions to that problem:
  • one requiring a lot of co-operation and standards-like activity
  • the other is a product, that would need to fight for adoption
Both possible, but not going to happen immediately, which means for now I'm stuck figuring out how to deal with this new feature: Use it or just ignore it :)


Popular posts from this blog

Measure f-ing everything, and assume f-ing nothing!! - Or how mentoring ruined lives :-(

I've been really enjoying the Freakonomics podcast of late. This episode and the lesson we should take a away from it, was a stark reminder of one of the most important things we should be doing - but often don't - in building products or making any decisions: measuring the impact of absolutely everything we do, including the things that seem obviously good.

I recommend listening to the podcast if you have the time, but here's the summary. Stephen Dubner describes the Cambridge Sommerville Youth Study. The impact of social intervention programs in general is hard to measure and so they seldom are. This was the first attempt at measuring the impact over a long period of time.

It's a great story and there are a few good take-aways, but here's the main one: troubled or at-risk youth that received mentoring (good mentoring!) had worse life outcomes across every dimension than the kids that were left alone. Despite the recipients saying that the mentoring was incredibl…

Yup - humans still lack humanity

Every once in a while, I'm reminded that humans can be completely lacking in humanity.

My wife had the following experience yesterday on her ride back home. She got on the train and found a seat. The train was unusually crowded and it looked a lot of people had to stand for a long ride. An elderly Asian gentleman carrying a few things in both hands, was looking for spot, started to complain smilingly about the train being so full and stood in the aisle at the back of the carriage some seats away from her.

She expected someone closer to gentleman in the aisle (lots of younger people on the train) to give him their seat.

No one did.

The train started, and it was clear the man was having a lot of trouble standing up. Then at the next stop there was actually an announcement saying the train was full so please give up your seats to people who needed them.

Still nobody moved.

My wife got up walked to the end of the train and asked the gentleman to go over to her seat. She still couldn&#…

Whimsy when I changed my profile picture...

I changed by profile picture at work.

Later in the day, two people on my team had changed their profile pictures to these.. :-)

It made my day!

I changed my profile pic again today. Let's see how fast anyone catches on this time. :-)