If I were one of the stressed out digerati–constantly overwhelmed by the demands of social media–I could probably list out a dozen existing tools that Google Reader’s new sharing options borrow from. Instead, I have my social networking habits under control, so will stick with just the obvious comparisons.
First, what did Google Reader announce?
- A new bookmarklet. Add the Google Reader bookmarklet to your browser and you can save any web page–even if it doesn’t have an RSS feed–while also adding your own notes or sharing with friends.
- Share items with a note. I share a lot of items on Google Reader. They all get added to my link blog, but until now, you’d never know why I found an item interesting. With this new addition, I can annotate a shared item with my own notes. So now you’ll know why I liked it.
- Add notes. How would you like to send your friends short messages. Maybe you have a random thought to share, or perhaps you want to let someone know what you had for lunch. What do you mean that sounds familiar?
OK, now let’s look at the comparisons for Google Reader’s new features.
- Del.icio.us. Reading through the description for Google Reader’s new bookmarklet, I couldn’t help but think the new tool is very similar to del.icio.us’ bookmarking service. With Yahoo’s del.icio.us, you can do pretty much the same thing–bookmark items, add notes, and then decide whether to share or make private.
- Twitter. While I don’t think the new "notes" feature will help Google Reader steal users from Twitter, there are some similarities. Even Google suggests you use it to "let your friends know whatever pops into your head."
So, what’s going on here?
It really does look like Google wants to turn Google Reader into a social networking tool. It’s already taken the step to try and get us to automatically read what our friends share and now it’s trying to get us to engage with them further. There’s just one problem–that’s not how I want to use Google Reader.
Google Reader wants to become more "social" but the problem is, it became popular because of one core strength–an RSS news aggregator. Does Google want us to use the service instead of alternatives that already exist? Or, are these just some useful additions, Google thought we might like to use, now and then. Knowing Google, I suspect the former. Don’t you?