Google Reader News and When Will Google Create a Social Network?

Google Reader is one of the easiest to use RSS Readers currently available. The code is fairly light, thus allowing you to skim read 100s of RSS articles quickly. One of its many failings however, which I have pointed out previously was the lack of reporting subscriber counts to Feedburner.

Yesterday I happened upon something maybe of significance when I spotted Nick Baum who is the project manager for Google Reader had created an account on MyBlogLog for his private blog. It should be noted that he doesn’t discuss Google matters on his private blog.

Nick Baum

I did however drop him a question via the MyBlogLog message system.

Message to Nick Baum

Nick did answer that message in private, but I couldn’t publish the answer yesterday because it was a private message, and might well have jumped the gun on an official announcement.

From the Google Reader Blog

Publishers have been asking us to report the number of users that are subscribed to their feeds in Google Reader. This is something we’ve been wanting to do for a while, but with all the products that use feeds at Google, corralling the data in one place was like herding cats. So herd we did, and as of today, our crawler reports the number of Google users subscribed to the feed. The count includes subscribers from Google Reader and the Google Personalized Homepage, and in the future may include other Google products that support feeds.

Great… wonderful… amazing news – thanks Google Reader team!

Now for Some Speculation

You might notice I bolded the following:-

and in the future may include other Google products that support feeds

This is pure speculation, but 2007 has just started and a lot is possible.

  • Blogger – Google already have avatars for Blogger accounts, but don’t have a much of a social network wrapped around Blogger interaction. Even have much better “community” between their bloggers with shared tag feeds and various dashboard features.
  • Google Personalized Homepage – this doesn’t have any form of sharing yet, unlike Pageflakes or Netvibes
  • Google Talk – allows you to set an avatar to be displayed
  • Google Co-op CSE – Again, you can join as an editor of a Google Co-op search engine and it will display your avatar
  • Gmail allows you to set an avatar
  • Gmail avatar

  • YouTube – Yes Google already own one social network, but it isn’t yet fully integrated with the multitude of other Google services – login at YouTube isn’t yet unified – I wonder how far that is from becoming a reality
  • Google Video – currently no social features
  • Personal Search – Would Google ever provide users with the ability to share what they have been search for to friends and family – yes I know there are privacy concerns, depending on what you search for ;) – you could have an option “share this search”
  • Google Reader Shared Feeds – I don’t share items, because I don’t support the fact that publishers don’t have a choice about their full content being shared. Snippets isn’t a problem, as long as there will be a way to warn you before you share private information you might subscribe to.
  • Groups – Google Groups are not really integrated very well with your online experience and either you have to fill up your mailbox with unwanted emails, or you have to make a concious decision to visit.
  • Picassa – You can share your photos, but again it is something separate from other Google Services
  • Google Documents – lots of sharing possible
  • Google Calendar – you can share your calendar, and this is one of the strongest features, but it is not well integrated with other services

Yahoo are looking strongly at integration of services. They have APIs for most of their social services, have just released Yahoo Pipes, and they purchased MyBlogLog.

Google does provide a lot of “behind the scenes” APIs for services, and it is possible to create a mashup service if you trust someone else with your Google account info – I wouldn’t personally share my Google account info with anyone – well my wife can retrieve my password if required, though she doesn’t have that need currently.
I didn’t list private services such as Adwords, Adsense and Analytics – maybe those could become a more private portal. It would certainly be useful to merge the data with more than just a hack.

Google is Missing Glue

You know… that substance that joins things together… and makes them sticky.

Google seem to be keeping very quiet about social network plans. Googlers have always been very good at keeping secrets, and have extreme job loyalty. I would think the majority of people who have left employment at Google over the last few years probably did so because they will probably never have to work again or for health reasons. Yes some people whose company has been acquired eventually leave, but financial security does allow a few entrepreneurial freedoms.

My prediction – sometime during 2007 Google will announce a major social networking platform that provides the glue between all their vast array of services.

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  1. says

    That makes a lot of sense. I was talking with someone the other day about how it seems as though Google is starting on the track to better tie services together.

    And on Google Reader, it really has changed the way I read the hundreds of feed I subscribe to. The list “river of news” view has cut my scanning time down significantly. I just wish they’d add an onhover event for each item in the list. Like a place-marker for speed reading, I think it would make it even faster to scan titles.

    Hmmm… Maybe someone should make a Greasemonkey script.

  2. says

    Yep I should have included it, another service that isn’t very integrated other than the login with a Google account.

    You can show clips and pics and could possibly have other things integrated with it. Orkut isn’t very “Google Service” like currently, and from what I have read the majority of users are in Brazil. It will be interesting what they do with it.