No, seriously, they added magic.
As you’ve probably noticed today, Google Reader has added a few new features. The first is the Explore section, just below the People you follow section. Here, Google shows off two sources of new feeds: Popular Items and Recommended Sources. As you might guess, the Recommended Sources feature analyzes your feeds (via Reader Trends) and Web History to find feeds you might like. (This is the old Recommendations feature.) Popular Items highlights “top-rising images, videos and pages from anywhere (not just your subscriptions).” It identifies these items algorithmically (how else?) and sorts them in the order they think you’ll like them.
The magic isn’t just in the mind reading, however. It’s also in the feed settings: now we can order items by newest, oldest or . . . magic.
The Magic setting orders items by our Reader activities and preferences Reader has observed. The more we like or share items in our feeds, the better the magic gets.
Like al of Google’s personalization features, these are based on our usage history. But how long until privacy advocates speak out against these developments? What do you think?