It looks like Facebook isn’t the only site to draw inspiration from FriendFeed. Google Reader has just launched a new feature that gives users the ability to comment on items that have been shared by their friends, allowing them to hold conversations focusing on each individual story. In other words, it does almost exactly the same thing as FriendFeed (at least for stories shared through Google Reader).
There are a few key distinctions. For one, conversations in Google Reader are only be visible to friends of the user who originally shared a story (FriendFeed allows comments to be displayed to the public with input from users who aren’t your friends). But Google’s blog post notes that it has more for its new comment system on the way, and it wouldn’t be surprising if public sharing is on the roadmap.
Also important to note is that there’s apparently no way to export the conversations that are held on Google Reader. While this is likely because of the private nature of the conversations, it can’t be welcome news to services like FriendFeed, which thrive on being able to import activity from other sites.
We’ve heard that Google has been toying with this idea since at least 2007, when we noted why some blog owners may well be opposed to it. For those blogs that send out full feeds (rather than summaries or the first paragraph of their posts), this new feature could potentially move the conversation away from the blog and onto Google Reader.