Back in the summer of 2007, I wrote this post about how aggregators should be able to find articles that interest you by paying attention to what people like you are reading. It's a very simple idea – after all, if 10 people you know all like the same article, then there's a pretty good chance you'll like it, too. But as is often the case, the simplest ideas often take the longest to implement.
Using an aggregator like FeedDemon ensures that you'll see stuff that interests you because you usually only subscribe to feeds you find interesting. But there are tons of feeds you don't know about that may interest you, so there's a good chance you're missing a lot of articles you'd enjoy.
The traditional approach to solving this problem has been to show you the stuff that's interesting to everyone (even "mainstream" news sites like CNN show the popularity of each article). But I personally hate this approach because it shows me so much stuff I don't care about it. For example, a lot of people may find the latest antics of pop culture icons interesting, but I couldn't care less.
I don't want to see articles about Britney Spears, I don't want to know how many women Tiger Woods slept with, and I don't care if Kanye just made an ass out of himself. But I do want to know if Google has an interesting new service, or if Microsoft released a new development tool, or if someone declared that RSS is dead (again). And I also want to know when someone has written a great response to an article that interests me.
So knowing what everyone is paying attention to doesn't interest me, but knowing what people like me are paying attention to is very interesting. I've tried to tackle this in FeedDemon for quite a while with little to show for it, but when Google Reader added the ability to follow people, I knew it was the "secret sauce" to finally solving this problem.
Long story short: the next build of FeedDemon will include articles from people you follow in Google Reader, and these articles will help fuel the "Popular in My Subscriptions" page which until now has shown only the articles that are popular in feeds you subscribe to. I've been using a build of FeedDemon with this feature enabled (here's a screenshot), and it has brought me tons of interesting articles that I would otherwise has missed (many of which I've added to my Shared Items feed).
PS: I should add that if you only see stuff that's interesting to people you follow, then there's a risk that you'll end up wearing blinders and miss "general interest" articles that may be relevant to you. For this reason, FeedDemon also looks at the feeds you're subscribed to and figures out which articles in those feeds have been "liked" the most by everyone (not just people you follow), and it interweaves those articles into the "Popular in My Subscriptions" page.