28 Oct 2009

Relevant Exploration Through Google Reader

This post is an add-on to the previous post Don't Slouch At The Dinner Table.  I'm posting an updating because one of the features that I quickly glossed over has been upgraded, and is starting to be quite useful.  I'm referring to the Like feature, and in this post I'll tell you how it has been upgraded to be quite a useful tool.

If you've logged into Google Reader lately, you might have noticed a new section at the top of the left column.  This section, Explore, adds a bit of relevant exploration to Google Reader.  The topmost link within the Explore section is Popular Items, then below that is a revolving list of 4 out of a total of 20 feeds that might be of interest to you. Finally, there is a View all recommendations link which brings you to the total 20 feeds that you might be interested in based on your current set of feeds.

Popular Items

When you click on this link, the right side of the page displays a list of posts that are most-liked based on the ever-increasing list of algorithms that Google has up its sleeve.  There's a note at the top of the list of posts that reads "These are items from the Internet that you might enjoy. Hit the smiley face at the bottom of items that you like -- we'll customize your list to help you discover even more stuff."

These popular items are personally created for each Google Reader user.  They're generated based on what you've been reading, what you've been liking, what you've been starring, as well as how your behavior compares to global activity.

Recommended Sources

The Recommended Sources list is pretty useful because it pushes the "let the internet come to you" method of web browsing one step further.  Google shows you four feeds that you might be interested in but aren't subscribed to yet - so, sites you likely haven't visited before (because who goes to a website twice when you can just subscribe to the feed?).

To view the full list of twenty recommended feeds, you can click the View all recommendations link just below the four listed.  This list displays how many subscribers there are for each feed listed & approximately how many posts there are per week.  It also provides you with a Subscribe or No Thanks option below the feeds title & short description.  These links function in a "yay or nay" type action.  The No Thanks link removes the feed from the list of recommended sources, and the Subscribe link does just that.

The way that the Recommended Sources is generated is pretty interesting, as well... It factors in the feeds that you're already subscribed to along with your Web History & your location and it compares this to many other users.  This creates similarities in reading patterns, and I like Google's explanation:

"For instance, if a lot of people subscribe to feeds about both peanut butter and jelly, and you only subscribe to feeds about peanut butter, Reader will recommend that you try some jelly."


google google-reader rss

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