There’s been a bunch of press lately about Google Reader’s new features, most notably the “Friends' shared items” section and Profiles. A handful of people were instantly complaining about the lack of privacy and control, but I don’t really see Google’s implementation as a problem. It seems pretty simple to go to “Manage friends” and hide the contacts you don’t want looking at your shared items, but this really kind of defeats the purpose of using your shared items to begin with. If anything, I think Google’s decision to automatically include your GTalk contacts just makes it that much likelier that I’ll read and see my contacts' shared items. I wouldn’t spend the time to go through my contacts to subscribe, but having them there automatically is great. It’s giving me the benefits of filtered reading list through a social network I wouldn’t have bothered to use otherwise.
However, I can see this causing some annoyance in the form of repeated posts. If a lot of my contacts are subscribed to the same stuff I’m subscribed to and decide to share it, I’ll see it twice - once on my own feeds and again when I go through their shared items. This has been annoying me on my Techmeme feed enough to want to consider unsubscribing from techmeme, and so I can see this becoming a bigger problem as I get more contacts who read the same stuff I read.
Whenever Google gets around to fixing the duplicate feed problem (and I really hope they do soon), they should also add an “Undo” button in Google Reader. In GMail, anytime you archive, delete, flag as spam, or otherwise move an email from one view to another, GMail gives you the option to undo the operation. This is great because Archive, Report as Spam, and Delete are all right next to each other and easily mis-clicked. Even if Undo wasn’t an option, it would still be possible to manually reverse the change.
What really annoys me with Google Reader is that there is no undo option when you click on “Mark all as read.” “Refresh” is stupidly directly next to “Mark all as read,” so I regularly end up clicking on the wrong button. The best you can do is switch over to the “All items” view and hope that you could skim through to see what you might have missed. Maybe I should take this as a blessing so that I can get through my feeds faster.
I’m a bit baffled why the smart guys at Google haven’t fixed these problems. Surely I’m not the only Google Reader annoyed by duplicate posts and the inability to undo a “Mark all as read” mis-click.