Without a doubt, one of my favorite features in Google Reader is the ability to share interesting articles with my friends, as well as receive interesting articles from them. When you share common interests with others, the information you get from shared items is often more interesting that the majority of the information you get from your other subscriptions. I’ve even considered removing all of my RSS subscriptions altogether and only receiving news via shared items from my friends.
But what about receiving Google Reader shared items from individuals that are not your friends, but still share your interests? This is quite possible to do and it is easier than you might think. All you have to do is subscribe to their Google Reader shared items RSS feed! The only trick is finding the URL for that shared items feed.
If you like Robert Scoble and you would like to receive his reader shared items, you may have a hard time trying to get added to his contact list. I’m sure he gets a lot of email, and you would probably get lost in the noise. However, he does make it very easy for you to receive his shared items, because he has the link to his shared items feed posted right on his blog. Just subscribe to it in Google Reader, and you’ll receive his shared items.
So what about people that don’t have their shared items linked right on their homepage or blog? The next place to look would be on FriendFeed. Google Reader is one of the many supported services on FriendFeed. If you want to subscribe to someone’s shared items and they are on FriendFeed, they may have added their shared items to their FriendFeed account. If so, then you are in luck!
Let’s say you’re interested in the same kind of things that Chris Brogan is interested in. Just use the FriendFeed find/invite search and search for Chris Brogan. When you hover over his picture, you’ll see the services he has hooked into FriendFeed. Google Reader shared items just so happens to be one of them. You can then right-click on the Google Reader item, copy the URL to the clipboard, and then put it into Google Reader to subscribe.
You have to right-click and copy to the clipboard, because if you left-click on it, it will display his reader items within FriendFeed. Alternatively you can left-click on the reader icon to view his Google Reader items in FriendFeed, and subsequently left-click the link at the top that says Chris’s profile on Google Reader.
So what if the person you want to follow doesn’t have their Google Reader shared items feed on their blog or FriendFeed? MyBlogLog would be the next place I would check. Let’s say you want to find out what sort of cool things Mike Fruchter is reading and sharing. Just visit his MyBlogLog page, and there you will see the link to his Google Reader shared items feed.
Unfortunately this is only a one-way street. When you subscribe to someone’s Google Reader shared items feed they will be unaware you have done so and they will not have access to see your shared items. If you want them to see your Google Reader shared items, you’ll probably have to do something extraordinary to have them befriend you. Writing an article on a popular blog and linking to their blog might be one way to do it. :-)
Do you use Google Reader shared items to dispense and receive news you are interested in?