There has been some buzz this week about the new trends feature added to Google Reader. It is a nice feature, and it will be even better once it includes aggregated trends of all Google Reader users. Being able to see the feeds you pay the most attention to is great, but it's equally great to see what everyone else is paying attention to (and of course, data about what large numbers of people are paying attention to is incredibly valuable to both publishers and advertisers).
The data about these aggregated trends belongs to Google, which seems fair enough to me. But what about your individual attention data? Should Google own the information about what you are paying attention to in Google Reader, or should they give it back to you?
And yeah, I know, the fact that this blog post is written by someone who kinda-sorta competes with Google Reader automatically makes it suspect. But quite honestly this goes beyond my role as the developer of FeedDemon. As Touchstone's Chris Saad points out, FeedDemon has shown your attention data for quite a while now, and I'm pleased to see the importance of attention spread to other aggregators.
I've written about attention data many times in this blog, including in this post which begins the conversation about including attention data in OPML. Not much has happened with OPML+Attention since then, but perhaps we can jump start the conversation again?
Google Reader - like every aggregator - supports OPML import/export. So Google Reader folks, why not include your customers' attention data in your OPML export, and support it in your OPML import? Nothing fancy is required here - a simple feed rank would be a nice start.
OPML may not be the most precise format, but we're all using it, so it seems like the obvious choice for sharing attention data between aggregators. But if Google chooses another format, that's fine - I'll use it, too. The important thing here isn't the format, but whether or not Google is willing to give its customers their attention data.