Making stuff as a founder of Avocado. Former music-maker. Tuna melt advocate. Started Google Reader. (But smarter people made it great.)

The Me Roll Contains No Jelly

On our way to other things the Google Reader team decided to open up sharing of labels. Basically you can have a page in Reader that will splice together feeds you choose. Or it can splice just single posts or entries that you tag, er, label. That page also has a feed. There are a number of really interesting ways to use it, I think.


With sharing in Reader you can put a clip of items anywhere you control HTML. They can use a theme or have styles applied via CSS. The clip feature is popular. Some examples:

Starred items

You can also have a "starred items" page to show stuff you want to share with someone (or with everyone). Here's my starred items.

All about "you"

Another use I've been thinking of for shared Reader information is as additional profile data. I've styled a couple of Reader clips to show my recent recommendation and reading data on the about page for this blog.

Then there's my Me Roll. Feed services like ours owe a lot from others' pioneering of these uses (e.g. Feedburner's) and I've found using splicing for this kind of avatar-as-feed has been immediately gratifying. I am considering pointing my auto-discovery link to the feed for my "me" label instead of this blog's feed. There's a steadily increasing amount of feed-serving out there so features like this help push the barrier to splicing nice and low. I'm not entirely sure what belongs in a "me" feed, however. Flickr photos, sure. My moblog, yup. My normal blog, of course. But what about the comments feed on my Flickr photos? My feed? My feed? Hmm.

Oh, and "me roll"? Laurence coined that term and he's immensely proud of it since it's his favorite phrase ever and he claimed that people would build cities around it and has monogrammed it onto all of his v-neck cardigan sweaters which is his favorite type of clothing. (Entire sentence after "that term" is a lie.)

What should we call a "me" feed?

Some technical notes

For the Javascript-adept it might be interesting to note that we're delivering clips in Douglas Crockford's JSON format and using callback wrapping to work around the same-origin policy which hampers similar efforts via the XmlHttpRequest object. (It should just be named HttpRequest, shouldn't it true believers?) Want more information about it? Check out the writeup by Simon Willison about the excellent Yahoo! APIs which have JSON as an alternative output format.

For further reading: check out Mihai's post where he points out that we were very close to being syndication bozos by missing the highly appropriate source element in Atom. Can't remember if it was Ben or someone else standing over my shoulder pointing to the spec on my monitor as I muttered, "crap, we're idiots..."

What in the world is being referenced by the post title?
posted at March 23, 2006, 12:47 PM


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