Ode To Google Reader

Last modified on April 27th, 2008

I’ve been using Google Reader as my main RSS reader for some time. For the most part, I’m pretty happy with it. They’ve recently added the ability to share items, which makes it far more interesting.

The one thing I’d love to see though is the ability to add local comments on those shared items, comments that only my friends could see. So many times I’ve read items in my friends’ shared feeds and really wanted to say something, or get clarification. Going to the real site and posting a comment sort of implies a certain level of knowledge on my part (especially if it’s a technical discussion). However, that barrier is much reduced when talking amongst my friends, and I really would love to see side-channel discussions on shared items. That’s my request for the day. So Google, you missed my birthday a few weeks ago, but you should do this for me.

While I’m on the subject, I’ll bring it Google Gears recently. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, Google Gears is basically a Javascript library that gives you, as a developer of a web product, the ability to off-line content. It received a bunch of hype a few months ago (although, like most things Google does these days, the hype seems to have died off), so I took a good look at it. And to be honest, I don’t think I’d integrate it into a web application of mine. It’s essentially a local caching system, and it seems a bit redundant to me in some regards. The amount of effort needed to make your application work offline, and then work again while online (via some synchronization of data and what-not), is really far too large for the average application I would think. Maybe in the extreme cases (like Google Docs), you can justify the expense, but doing twice the work to capture maybe 5% of people who want to use your application offline really isn’t a good investment for most people (the good ole 80-20 rule).

7 responses to “Ode To Google Reader”

  1. Tod says:

    Hey D,

    I really, really wish Google would put effort into letting Gmail and Google Calendar use Gears. I’m certain more people use those two than Reader. I can see how Gmail would be a challenge, but there really is no different between Reader and Calendar.

    On the topic of Reader, I totally agree that an ability to add (and track?) comments would be good.

    At the very least, they could very easily implement a Blog This button under the story.

    Seems they’re either oblivious to this, which I doubt, or all hands are on some unannounced big project.

  2. Duane Storey says:

    I actually think they are just sort of oblivious. They release cool things and then sort of walk away from them. We’ll see though.

  3. Re: Reader. It’s more that we’re working on some tricky, difficult projects. We’re hoping to get those finished soon in order to work on other, interesting things.

  4. Tod says:

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks! 🙂 I’ll PayPal you $20 if you tell me what those projects are!

    Seriously, though… hope the projects go well, and pleeeeease at least put a “Blog This” button by Add Star, Share, Email, etc.

    Thanks for weighing in. It’s always good to know you folks are listening.


  5. Duane Storey says:

    Side-channel discussions for the win! I’m interested to see the things you guys are working on. I just read an interesting piece about Blogger, and how it’s just sort of been gathering dust since Google acquired it. I hope Google reader gets the development cycles it deserves.

  6. Dale Mugford says:

    I have to disagree about offline apps, partially. I think with time web apps will take over from installed apps, I know I would place more trust in online apps could I work with them offline.

    That said, for the time being, it’s not a good investment if you’re a smaller start-up.

  7. Duane – you took the words right out of my mouth with your ‘wish list’ for google reader. I’ve been thinking the exact same thing since I started sharing stuff.

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