Posted November 30, 2007 9:05 am by with 2 comments

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The interns are taking over the Googleplex! Seriously, if you want to know why Google is so intent on reaching geniuses at an early age, you need look no further than today’s upgrades to Google Reader.

Google Reader gets a new feature which recommends new RSS feeds to you–based on your current feeds and web history–and also receives "drag & drop" functionality–allowing you to re-order your feeds and easily move them to new folders.

Both new features were the handy work of ex-interns at Google!

What these two features have in common is that (ex-)interns played a significant role in delivering both of them. Nitin Shantharam (UC Irvine) helped create the user interface for recommendations, while Olga Stroilova (MIT) had a hand in the algorithms that generate them. Meanwhile, drag-and-drop was the brainchild of Brad Hawkes (UMass Amherst), who was our intern the summer of 2006, and returned to join the Reader team full-time earlier this year. As RIE (Reader Intern Emeritus), Brad paved the way for the great student help that we’ve had this year. Also to be mentioned is Jason Hall (Kent State), who was behind many interface improvements that have been live for a few months already. All told, our interns (and ex-interns) have done great work this year!

Here’s how Google Reader’s recommendations work…

When you visit our discovery page, you’ll see quite a few feeds that we think you may find interesting. "Interesting" here is determined by what other feeds you subscribe to, as well as your Web History data, all taken into account in an automated, anonymized fashion. (To learn more about how our recommendations work, see our help article about them).

And here’s how the drag and drop feature looks…

It looks like the features will appeal to different audiences. Those users that don’t have a lot of feeds, or are just setting up their account, will likely find the recommendations of some use. Personally, I’m more interested in the drag and drop function. I use many folders to arrange my RSS feeds, but the ones I really enjoy reading are often buried in the middle of the list. It’s nice to be able to re-order the list to my preference.