Google Reader Shared Items: And what about the usability?

Everyone and their dog is complaining about Google Reader introducing the “friends’ shared items” functionality a few days ago, which enables users to share a selection of their feeds with friends. However, when introduced, Google automatically shared the existing “shared” feed, rather than letting users opt in. This caused an upheaval from people who, I suppose, had something to hide in their shared feed.

Google Reader Shared ItemsWhat has shocked me most with the crash landing arrival of this new feature is the poor usability of it. When Scoble suggested Google should add more granular control over privacy settings, he also asked readers to share feeds. I popped into my own Google Reader and looked for an easy way to find Robert’s feed and share my own with a few people. Stumped. Completely. There is no easy way to “request” a feed from someone you’d like to follow, just as there is no way to share yours with someone who isn’t already a Gmail contact.

It’s quite obvious that the Google team will improve on this as soon as they recover from their Christmas meals, but I’m honestly surprised that the feature was released as-is. Some thinking is needed on the ease with which one can share, unshare, specify what should be shared, who it should be shared with and how it should be shared.

Until then, if you’re looking for my feed, it’s right here – I’ve been on fire today and added loads to my shared items. I promise to be more reasonable with the number of stories shared in the future.