This week Google Reader updated its Shared Items so users can share them with a hand-picked friend group. Up until now sharing on Reader has bee limited to Google Talk chat contacts.

From the perspective of object-centered sociality it’s easy to understand why many Reader users asked for a separate list. On Talk, people connect with folks they want to chat with. The social object there is the chat conversation. Reader took a different object, a blog article, and made it shareable. Many people’s chat networks didn’t map perfectly to their blog-reading networks, which the Reader team recognized.

A part of my job has been to make it easier to share things on Google, so it’s been great to work with the Reader team and see them launch this update. It gives users greater control over the audience they share with and consume from.

By the way, one of the details worth noting is that sharing on Reader can be asymmetrical. That is, you can let someone see your shared items without necessarily having to subscribe to theirs. Personally I find this really useful. I’m fine sharing articles with a broad audience, but following everyone back would be drinking from the firehose.

I prefer to follow a smaller group of people who are good at picking up things in a space that I’m interested in. That tends to change depending on what I’m working on, so it’s useful to be able to update subscriptions without affecting who can see my shared stuff.

Congrats to the Reader team!

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