This morning Google announced some new features for Google Reader. These features make Reader feel like a social networking website. I think Google is taking an interesting approach to social networking. They’re refitting all their existing products to include social features. It still feels a little separate though. There isn’t a feel of congruency across all the applications.
You can now decide who sees your shared items, and who can comment on them. I don’t see this as a feature I’d likely use as everything I share is already on the web and if I block people from seeing it on my shared items then they can just find it elsewhere. I have a feeling that Google did this to fight off the hordes of people yelling loudly about privacy lately.
Google Reader now displays information from your profile and a link to your fully profile at the top of your shared items page. What you can store on your Google Profile appears akin to what you can store on other social networking sites. A link to your profile is kind of a different approach to social networking. Sites like Facebook and MySpace focus on your profile and links to other features. Google’s approach seems to be to add social features to all their applications and link that to a profile. This approach seems to me to be the best way to muscle in on the social networking scene.
Google Reader now includes a button to ‘like’ a post. This is the most controversial features as it adds an extra line to the post and takes up a fair bit of screen real estate. I don’t notice it taking up too much space, that could either be due to the fact I’m used to having a small screen on my laptop and on my desktop my monitor is big enough for me to not notice. I think the idea is great, you can easily find people who like the same things you do and follow them. The only issue i have with it right now is that everyone is clicking like on everything and there are way too many people to sort through to find somebody with similar interests.
This is an interesting approach for Google, but i believe it will pay off. Google is creating a social network that isn’t about having friends or getting the most views. Google’s social network is about people similar to you and things you like.
Random thought: Punishment in real life: You perform an illegal operation and you go to jail, Punishment in computing: You perform an illegal operation and you get killed.