August 01, 2008

Take a Google Reader Shared Item Viral Using Notes

If you use Google Reader as your online RSS reader, you're no doubt familiar with the ability to share an item to your shared link blog. For example, mine can be found here.

Earlier this year, the Reader team added the ability to post a "Note" to your share items. The idea of Google Reader Notes is that you introduce friends who subscribe to your link blog to the story you've shared, explaining why you found it interesting.

As a subscriber to some shared link blogs, it's growing increasingly common that I am seeing Notes posted, and sometimes, these Notes are authored by "friends of a friend", whom I am not subscribed to myself. For example, I recently saw a note that Jesse Stay posted on a article, shared in Robert Scoble's link blog. This means the story was originally shared by Jesse Stay, then shared by Robert Scoble, and then read by me.

Item's Source: Jesse Stay → Robert Scoble → Louis Gray

As more people are subscribing to Google Reader link blogs, I bet this is happening everywhere. So here's an experiment I would like to try:
  1. I will share this article with a note.
  2. The note will request you also share the item and say where you got it.
  3. In your note, request those subscribed to you also share it add their name and keep your original text.
In theory, a Google Reader shared item, as it gets reshared from person to person, could be as viral as the old-school offline chain letter, with the most-recent recipient having absolutely no connection to the original sharer, except for the connection path.

So why don't we give this a try? As RSSmeme tracks shared items with notes, we could see a variety of paths the shared link took to get to you, and we could see a number of interesting "comments" on FriendFeed that show the route of the item.

I'll go first. This could of course fail due to a small number of Google Reader users who use notes, my continued obscurity, and disinterest, but I'm willing to give it a shot.