Monday, March 01, 2010

How I discover people to follow - on Google Reader

It's not all bad though. Google built a lot of Buzz on the Google Reader Shared Item experiments, and as a side-effect they fixed the long broken social bits of Google Reader.

So now I'm enjoying enlisting new unpaid specialists to sort and manage the world's information flow for me. It's like having my own team of incredibly expensive super-smart uber-analysts -- except I don't pay them anything.


Ok, so maybe the evil laughter is a bit much. After all, they're free to follow what I share, and we're all feeding the hivemind. It who laughs last is Skynet, as the saying goes.

How do I use Google reader to enlist my witting info-drones?

I look for the "like" link on posts that I like a lot, but that don't have many other "likes". I then click the "like" link and scan the names and associated metadata, looking for people who are different from me -- different nationality, age, gender, profession, etc. Then I look at their shared items. If they've shared interesting things that are new to me, I follow them. I also add them to my special "x-reader" group which allows them to comment on anything I share (should they decide to follow me, though most will not).

None of this worked reliably a month ago, but it works now.

My "People you follow" section is now becoming my strongest information source. I'm able to follow fewer feeds directly, as I now outsource the processing chore to my fellow minions.

Quite nice, really.

Update 3/2/2010: I'm also again trying Google Readers "show in my language" feature to start following non-English "likes". I believe Google's Translation feature is extremely disruptive and amusingly under appreciated. This is how the really big things often come - quietly in the night. Note that the latest betas of Chrome for Windows now incorporate translation services into the browser. I'm looking forward to an English-Chinese-English view of my posts that will allow me to optimize my English writing for English-Chinese automated translation.
My Google Reader Shared items (feed)

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