Google Reader – The Borg is Watching

The blogosphere is buzzing today about the new stats being published by the Google reader, however I’d like to take a slightly more cynical look at things.

First off let me say I tried the Google reader recently (see Feed Reader Suggestion) and thought it was an excellent product. I would use it myself if it weren’t for the latency issue. Mihai from the Google Reader team explained how that’s not really a workable option. If can ever get over my “me, me, me, I need it now issues” I would definitely use it, and have no problem recommending it for people who are a little more tech savvy.

Lots of people are discussing how the feed reader is now giving stats of what you are reading.

So there’s some speculation Google may be building a digg killer, I think that’s like digging for gold in diamond mine. The real value is in user data. First off do you think Google is giving you the whole enchilada? Sure they are sharing the some of the good stuff but I bet there’s a whole lot of really really interesting stuff they are gathering behind the scenes and not sharing with the public. Do you think knowing that 5000 people are subscribed is a valuable piece of data? Do you think knowing that subscriptions are rising is valuable? Do you think knowing that 300 people “starred” and article is important? How about if you merge that data with linkage data. Could subscription rates be matched with link growth over the same period of time? Do you think it would be an indication of quality? Do you think that data could be merged with toolbar data? Do you think a Google account using a reader that has been around for a longer period of time and is actively used might carry more weight than a drone zombie account that gets logged into once a week or less?

Do I think that this user data plays a significant role in the current algo, absolutely not. Do I think it’s integrated in some way, absolutely. Do I see them “adjusting the knob” and giving it more weight over time “almost certainly”. Some people make their moves on where Google is today. Some of try to think 2 and 3 ply and figure where Google is likely to move next.

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