A new feature for Google Reader is the ability to view friends’ shared items from within the Reader interface, which makes Reader look more like a social network.
What’s odd about this feature is it’s inherent limitations. It seems you can only view shared items from your collection of GTalk/Gmail contacts, which makes Reader unlike a social network.
I haven’t yet decided how useful this feature is, considering it’s limitations. More importantly, I can already subscribe to anyone’s shared items RSS feed within Reader. This approach is much more passive and anonymous, as I don’t need to have actually contacted the person via Gmail or GTalk, to have them be considered a “friend.” (Google Reader’s definition of a friend, that is.)
I really think the Reader team missed an opportunity here. I’ve already mentioned the potential of the “shared items” feature, specifically the absence of a “most shared” section, highlighting the aggregate totals amongst all shared items, effectively creating a Digg-like application.
Why is this not being done? I don’t care so much for what a handful of my close friends are sharing (most times I already know what my friends are reading, since we’re friends – we talk about these things!) – I care what the world is sharing.