So, is it Opposite Day at Google?

From the Official Google Reader blog, a post about sharing with friends and making new friends. Now, I don’t have a lot of “Google Reader Friends” and I use my Shared Items to feed into a sidebar widget over here, so maybe I’m just not into the whole “sharing” thing enough, but this part seems really overly complicated to me:

By hovering over the name of an unfamiliar commenter you can see their profile picture and the links they’ve added to their Google Profile. Furthermore, you can click the “Start sharing” link to start sharing your shared items with that person!

This is a great way to add new people to your friends list. When that person next logs in, they’ll see an option to view your shared items as well as the option to start sharing with you. If they reciprocate, you’ll have a new friend in your Reader.

I mean, I guess they’re erring on the side of privacy but really, is a thing called Shared Items supposed to be all that private? It seems to me that it would make a lot more sense to do the Twitter-style follow for this one, and send The Sharer an email when The Follower starts viewing their shared items. Then The Sharer can reciprocate if they want by following The Follower, and if they don’t want to follow The Follower back, they don’t have to do anything (as opposed to having to make a decision in Google’s model). Yes, this means that The Sharer has to be willing to share their items publicly to start with, but that seems to have worked out pretty well for Twitter. And I’d argue that sharing and commenting on items via Google Reader is orders of magnitude less personal than the kind of things people put on Twitter. All this “privacy” thing means is that Google has to add this kind of disclaimer to make sure people can understand how it is going to work:

Note: You can stop sharing your items with someone at any time by visiting the Sharing settings link in your left sidebar. Also, if someone chooses to share with you, your shared items are not visible to that person unless you consent. Finally, the “start sharing” link in profile cards will also only appear to those users sharing with friends, and not those sharing only with chat buddies.

It just seems like a real backwards way of doing it.


Posted on May 4, 2009, in Diatribes, Google, Social web and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on So, is it Opposite Day at Google?.

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