For those that have been avoiding Web 2.0 stuff, Digg is a site that allows users to add to and prioritize (ad-hoc) a list of web links based on popularity rankings. Users can "digg-up" a link to a page or story if they like it, or "bury" it if they don't.
In theory, Digg appears to represent a paragon of Web 2.0's great promise to democratize the Internet. In practice, a relatively small cabal of users try to employ tactics to increase popularity of certain links over others - and not to put too fine a point on it, but they all tend to have a biased left-wing slant.
Scoble writes about a FaceBook application
written by Mario Romero that allows FaceBook users to share Google Reader shared items. In practice, this means that you can leverage FaceBook's social networking features against the feed aggregation/sharing features of Google Reader.
Sound confusing? It's not - and it's downright cool.
Adding Google Reader to your FaceBook Applications
I'm going to assume a couple of things before getting started: First, you know what FaceBook is and have an account (What? You DON'T have a FaceBook account??); second, you have a Google account (GMail, Analytics, what-have-you); third, you have some blog/RSS feeds that you keep track of and want to share with others.
Let's Get Started: Add the Google Reader Application
You might have noticed that just about every "feature" in FaceBook is actually called an "Application" - on your Profile Page you will find on the upper-left side a list of the applications that you have installed:
Click the "edit" link to bring up your Applications console. From here, you can add and remove FaceBook apps as well as control their respective settings. Enter "Google Reader" into the search box to find the Google Reader app:
Once the search is complete, you should see a link in the results list for the Google Reader application. Click it and you'll see the profile page for the app. Click the "Add Application" button on the right-hand side - PRESTO! You've added the Google Reader application. You should see something like the following to reward your efforts:
We're not quite done yet, however, as the Shared Items and Shared Items Feed are set to point to default URLs. We need to get our own Google Reader account set up.
Setting up Google Reader
Ok, we're half-way to having your own personal Digg-style link network up and running. We now need to set up Google Reader to aggregate your RSS feeds and make them shareable so we can hook them into FaceBook. Navigate over to http://www.google.com/reader/
to set up Google Reader for your Google account.
You may need to deal with some preliminary set-up housekeeping before moving on to adding subscriptions to feeds. Google Reader allows you to add bundles of popular RSS feeds automagically, but for now click the add subscription button on the left side of the page to enter a sample feed:
Once you've added a feed, it will become available in your main feeds list. To make a feed item
(i.e. a single story) available to others, you need to share
it so that it can be publicly accessed:
By Clicking on the "Share" link, you make the article available for public consumption. I shared a few articles from this blog via Google Reader for this article. Once you've done this, you can check your shared items list by clicking (unsurprisingly) the Shared Items link on the left side of the page. You'll see a list that is prefaced with a very important notice
Note the number at the end of the shared items link: This is your Google Reader ID. We'll need this in the next step.
Hooking up FaceBook to Google Reader
Remember those links for Shared Items after you set up the Google Reader application? Right: We need to make sure that they point to your Google Reader ID. If you've navigated away from the page, bring up the profile page for the Google Reader app by selecting it from the Applications List I pictured earlier in the article - you may need to click the "more" link to show it.
Now, select the "Settings" link from the top of the profile page for the app - it's pretty straight forward, with clear directions on how to add your Google Reader ID:
Click "Save" and you're done! Now, any feed items that you decide to share in Google Reader will be made available to your FaceBook cronies who also have Google Reader installed.
That's a critical point - ultimately, your ability to share and get links from others will be influenced by the size and diversity of your FaceBook Friends cache and their having installed the app.
What makes this app interesting to Scoble and others as a Digg Killer is the Top Shared Items feature (as shown via the respective tab) - from here, you can see the items that are generating popularity amongst your peer group. This is a powerful concept!
Now, the app is still developing but it has great potential for becoming a better source of community-filtered content than Digg. As Scoble notes:
Admittedly this isn’t to the level of a Digg killer yet, but it is gathering steam at a very rapid pace. There’s a lot of smart people using Google Reader — Eric Auchard at Reuters is on the list, for instance. That’ll lead to a lot better news than Digg picks on an average day.
Indeed! For now, Mario is promising new features shortly that will expand on the beta. Give it a try, get some friends on-board, share some links and have fun killing Digg. It needs to be buried - or at least its little cabal of link promoters.