Google Reader is becoming the most useful social connector

I have just returned from a RSS hiatus. The weather was fine and the conversation on Twitter and FriendFeed has been great but I just wasn’t consuming much of the 800-odd feeds I currently subscribe to. So what I did was set up a Google Reader instance using (in other words, I have a dedicated browser window for Google Reader without location, bookmark and menu bars) and that is my primary RSS consumption engine.

I’ve been using Google Reader more and more lately, particularly since news broke about PubSubHubbub and Newsgator’s new sync relationship between its desktop RSS readers and Google Reader rather than its own Newsgator Online. I’ve been hoping that I could sync NetNewsWire with Google Reader and I am pretty happy that it is now possible (although I generally prefer Google Reader itself to NNW). PubSubHubbub has also introduced near real-time feed updates into Google Reader and back out again into services like FriendFeed and that is very cool. Take a look at this demo, for example:

It gets better. This little toolbar, below, which we are probably all familiar with has been getting a lot more use from me and it has me thinking about what the next iteration of the real-time Web is going to look like (particularly after the recent news about FriendFeed’s acquisition and speculation about its fate as Facebook digs in).

GReader bar.png

Everyone seems to have the ability to “Like” stuff. I’ve been using it on and off in Google Reader although I’m not sure what the overall utility of that is. I have been sharing posts more often and these items are appearing in FriendFeed almost instantaneously. The ability to add comments introduces a sort of micro-blogging functionality to what are otherwise bland feed items shares and turn them into conversation items. There doesn’t seem to be all that much scope to engage in a conversation around an item in Google Reader itself just yet but streaming these shares into services like FriendFeed does achieve that quite nicely.

FF share from GReader.png

I decided to play around with the “Email” option this evening and sent a couple posts to two locations. The first location was to my Evernote account using my top secret email address. The result was a copy of the post in my Evernote account which I could neatly file away. I often grab posts that interest me and capture them into Evernote for future reference or to read when I have some time. This option makes it really easy to send that stuff right from the same place I aggregate and read a variety of news items. I probably sent more stuff to Evernote in 10 minutes than I did in the last few days. Everything is in one place, its very easy.

Another place I sent a feed item to is Posterous. This works because when I email a feed item, I send it using my Gmail address which Posterous recognises. The result is a pretty easy share on Posterous (which reposts elsewhere). Take this example of a post Rich Mulholland posted recently as an example:

Posterous from GReader.png

Google Reader is beginning to look more and more like a central hub for my social and information gathering habits. Given the uncertainty about FriendFeed there is some talk about where to go next and what to use in a post-FriendFeed world (ok, really, FriendFeed is still running quite nicely and will for the time being). Facebook isn’t a top favourite with the FF-digerati and that is the top social network in the world. Looking to Twitter and the heir to the FriendFeed throne is a couple steps backwards so I started thinking that, perhaps, we should be reconceptualising what the social, real-time Web will look like in the coming months and years. I wonder if we won’t see Google Reader (or some future version of it) become a big part of that new social Web?

By the way, also think about Google’s new social gadgets for iGoogle … think Facebook inside out …

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