Blog Pile

WTG? What the Google is Going On?

I admit it.

I still regularly review content RSS feeds in that archaic, pre-twitter-is-all-i-need thing called a “Feed Reader”. Me and 3 other holdouts.

Go ahead, call me a throw back.

Recently, in using Google Reader, I am seeing signs that the Great Google is subtly slipping in more social network features, that have me wondering if Google is becoming more like Facebook is becoming more like Twitter? Is the bird wagging the Goog?

Blog experimentation notice- I am trying the Lightbox 2 plugin switched to z-Lightview to embed images… clicking will load in an overlay to see full size… if it works.

Oddly enough, we have the most unlikely technology prognosticator, Conan O’Brien, to credit for peeking ahead to YouTwitFace

and oddly enough, despite the Google -YouTube Connection; the Big G is not part of the acronym. But they are doing things in the space, all of which may be a tease once the Wave crashes on shore (or ends up being just a pond ripple no one notices).

First of all, Google has been expanding the notion of a profile, which has been in the services region a while, but never been clear what one does with it.


As far as other social media profiles, the Google one is rather start for now- mine has my icon, a feed of flickr photos and links I picked. Google has some quirky questions that are not clear what the use is (maybe pure fun or their evil harvesting of our beings? but the examples were funny).


Is there any use for this? Dunno.

  • Something I still can’t find on Google well yeah, an honest answer might give them ideas, but for now I list my car keys and lost youth. Snark is plentiful.
  • My superpower. Yeah very useful. I listed blogging since no one does it anymore, blogs are dead, yadda yadda.
  • Interests open ended, kind of facebook-ish. I would guess some connections could happen here

It all rather pales (for now) in comparison to say the fun new service — I whipped this up in about 8 minutes

I am guessing there are Bigger Plans out there.

But back to Google Reader.

They now provide some social networking hooked on the piece of reader that allows you to pick stories to “share”- this has always seemed a useful educator tool as you can pick among the pile of feeds you read to mix and match stories you think are relevant- you can share them via a URL or an RSS feed or even widgets for your blogs. They’ve added 4 “Styles” which are pretty lame- just cartoon banners, but would expect user defined themes are near:


But now, the people you associate as contacts or enable via the sharing- you can see an aggregated view of what they are sharing, and add comments as well.


That is sort of interesting, as you can then follow what other people are sharing. But they have also added a twitter/facebook status like “notes” feature so you can just blurt out stuff to the emptiness of web space:


I’m not yet seeing a whole lot of “there” there unless people start using this; maybe the future Wave is being able to do this for any piece of web content?


And lastly is the new “Liking” feature- where as you go through stories in Reader, you can one click (or shortcut “l”) to attach a Facebook-like stamp on news stories.

You’ve always been able to indicate “Liking” by sharing or starring, but now– “Liking is Public” so the reader stories feature of a count of how many times it has been Liked and even list the Likers.


Hmm, like others out there, the value here is a mixed one. A new story has fewer likers. Like none at first. Maybe we should get points for being the first Liker. But what does it say? Its a quasi vote, and Google can weave some ad magic with knowing what stories are more liked.

I guess with the New Age notion of friendship being just a click on a strangers profile (friends online with people we’d never have a friendship with in real life) so is “liking” now a throw away opinion.

I’m not sure where Google is going with all this, but I bet they have a plan somewhere.

What do you think?

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. I often wonder how much coordination goes on in that back end of Google. Is the Reader team adding all this stuff because they just want cool new features, or is it actually part of a master “wave to take over the world” plan? Also, if there is a plan, how come it hasn’t been exposed yet? Apple locks its engineers away in dungeons and executes family members and their plans still get out in the open. Why does nobody know what Google is going to do?

    Maybe it is all just preparation for Chrome OS… but I guess we have to wait and see.

  2. I know this is tangential to the main point of your post, but you made me curious. I’ve heard the arguments that no one is using feed readers anymore and everyone reads blogs through Twitter links, but I have to say that I’m not really seeing it in my own subscriptions. Are you seeing a decrease in your feed reader subscriptions that makes you feel like you’re one of a handful of holdouts? Is Twitter a bigger referral source than Google Reader for your blog?

    I don’t doubt that there are people who are reading that way, but a significant chunk of my readers still subscribe via email. They haven’t even moved to RSS yet, let alone to something like Twitter. I guess I really don’t think using a reader makes us throwbacks.

  3. Christy, you missed the big invisible smiley ;-) I make stuff up, don’t you see?

    To be honest I dont’s spend much time in nmy stats, so I don’t know who the 6 people are who read my blog.

    There, I did it again, see?

    There are actually 9 people who read the blog.

  4. OK, I know you’re stretching the numbers a bit. (Quite a bit, as I see about 950 in Google Reader for you, and I’m sure you have more elsewhere.) But I’ve had people seriously make the argument that Twitter is a requirement for all bloggers because “whether we like it or not a large portion of our audience now reads links to post from Twitter and don’t use Feed readers.” I was curious whether you were seeing that kind of shift. But, clearly it isn’t a big deal to you either way–you’re learning by blogging and using a reader, so you’ll keep doing what works for you. :)

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