Socializing in Google Reader vs. Bloglines

Over a year ago I started using Google Reader as my aggregator and I added a little widget to my blog’s sidebar for my “Shared Items” — posts from my RSS subscriptions that I found interesting, amusing, or just plain weird.  In Google Reader it’s very easy to just click “Share” (or hit Shift + S) and – voila – the post you’re reading is in your Shared Items.

And I like to share, by golly.

But part of sharing is the exchange, the two-way street, the trading off… I’m not getting enough of that.

Bloglines Example

Let’s start with Bloglines – the original aggregator for many people in my little circles.  In Bloglines, it is fairly easy to share, albeit indirectly.  You subscribe to a feed, you click on “Subscribers” and then you get a handy-dandy list of the public subscribers.  You see a name you recognize and you click on it to find other feeds that like-minded friend is reading.   You subscribe to the ones you like and all that wholesome blog love is passed along.

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In Google Reader, you have to already be connected with people on Google Talk (Gmail’s chat) in order for their Shared Items to show up in your feeds. Otherwise, you have to get the URL of their Shared Items from their blog (which is how I peak over the shoulder of Robert Scoble, the techie tasmanian devil) or from them directly.

Google ReaderOf course, it helps if they’re using Google Reader and marking items to be shared in the first place.  I can see from my “Friends” tab in Reader’s Settings that several people I know are using Google Reader, but none of them have any Shared Items.  From what I’ve seen, you can’t just search for like-minded folks on Google Reader and see what kind of feeds those people are reading. If there is a way, please … um… share.  Thanks!

On the other hand, when people are willing to share, there are many wonderful ways to do this in Reader.  For example, I have all my feeds sorted into folders (ie. art, food, library, tech) but when I come across a specific post that I want to file away for a specific purpose, I edit the tags (ie. brainstorm, comment, products, tips).  So if I want to share the stuff I’m reading with people in certain contexts, I can make a whole folder of several feeds public – like “libraries” – or I can make a tag of specific posts public – like “tips“… Actually, in Reader folders and tags are technically the same thing but you can see from the image to the left that Google will display them differently in the sidebar, depending on how you’re using them.

So if you’re using Google Reader and you’re Sharing stuff (or you’re going to start now  🙂  ) please send me a line or send me your feed’s address.  I’d love to peak over your shoulder, too.  C’mon. I’m a librarian. What people read fascinates me.

In summary, here’s a gloss of sharing options in Google Reader and Bloglines, to the extent that I’ve figured them out.  If you can think of more details to add, I’m happy to hear them.

Google Reader Bloglines
Finding other users:
contacts on Google Talk
direct URL

Sharing levels:
default is everything private except Shared Items
individual folders / tags can be Shared, but the URL has to be provided in order for people to know about it

Finding other users:
public subscribers on common subscriptions
direct URL

Sharing levels:
default is private, but once you turn on “public” everything becomes public all at once and you have to individually mark feeds as “private” … sort of the opposite of Google Reader

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