One of the nicest features of Google Reader, is the ability to share. Not only can you easily share feed items by clicking a small box in the feed, but you can also assign feed items different tags, and choose to share only those tags. The result is a webpage with all of the tagged items, complete with an RSS feed.
When first using Google Reader, I sort of ignored the sharing feature, and focused primarily on my own feed reading. However I soon became curious about it, and that’s when I discovered the possibilities of shared feeds. I quickly sent my friends who use Google Reader a quick email with my shared RSS in it, and requested theirs. We swapped shared feeds, and 2 months later, I am not regretting it one bit. Knowing that half a dozen people are reading your shared items has motivated us to share stories we would find relevant for others. The result, is basically their favourite stuff, all delivered to your feed reader, with little conversation. Now, whenever I encounter a friend using Google Reader (that’s rare), we swap shared feeds. I’ll talk a bit more about the advantages below.
1. Discover new feeds. One of the biggest disadvantages of feeds versus visiting the actual website, is that you don’t often discover need feeds to add to your reading list. On a website you can browse the blogroll, and usually find other relevant websites that will interest you. By sharing your feeds, you can discover the best of your friends’ feeds. From personal experience, I have visited and subscribed to over 10 blogs that I found through my friends.
2. Shared feeds are quality filter on your feed reading. If you are subscribed to 100+ feeds, it can get very hectic sorting through them, trying to find the stuff you actually want to read. Sometimes, you might miss something. What’s nice about reading your friend’s shared, is that you can easily see what they thought was the best stuff in their list. This peer quality control gives a nice, useful stream of information. I find that I click through on items much more often in shared feeds, as opposed to say engadget, or reddit.
3. Voice your opinion, without having your own blog. I’ve outlined the advantages of being on the receiving end of shared feeds, but what about sharing your feeds with others? The biggest advantage here is that you can voice your opinion to a certain extent, without having your own blog. If I find an awesome product or service that I really want to share, I could write a blog post about it, hoping to refer a couple users to it. Alternatively, I could easily share the item in my feeds, and possibly get the same or greater number of referred users.
Obviously, you mainly want to share shared items with people that you find interesting, or often talk about interesting things. Also, you will probably only want to subscribe to people you know. If you are interested, you can subscribe to my shared feed here. I will try to share mainly productivity related items, so if you want more Gearfire goodness, consider subscribing.