September 2009


“Like” Issue in Google Reader

Liking Something...

A month or two ago Google Reader introduced the “like” feature, which lets you identify news stories and blog posts that you find interesting and to share that information with the world.

Unfortunately it leads to moments like this which are, I think, a bit inappropriate.  I hope that nobody “likes” the fact that the helicopter is missing-we are talking about human life here. What’s really going on (I hope) is that somebody thinks that this particular item is interesting and important in some way, and is worthy of my attention. (And, if you are interested, the “liked” story: India leader’s helicopter missing.)

5 comments to “Like” Issue in Google Reader

  • Since it was an Indian helicopter that was missing, I’m sure you can find many who actually “like” the news. The rest of the world will just find it interesting as a news story.

  • I’m sure you can find many who actually “like” the news.

    Yes, there are assholes who wish things like death and transit accidents on other (groups of) people and are pleased when it happens.

    They are scum though, and not worthy of our time. And I’m willing to bet not the target audience of the “Like” function built into the reader.

    Or do you honestly think that that was Google’s intent?

  • Oh, I forgot to mention: you can set the language of your choice in your Google Reader settings. In German, the word they use instead of “Like” is “Bevorzugen” which means “prefer” or “favor” — which at first doesn’t sound much better. But here’s the interesting (uh…to me) part:

    Bevorzugen is linked, linguistically, to “vorziehen.” (The “ziehen” root there gets nounified and the verbified.) “Vorziehen” means “to prefer” or “to choose” as well, but it also carries a more literal meaning of “pull/push forward/from behind,” etc. Which is what you’re doing when you mark a news article with the “Like” function in Google Reader.

  • Jul

    This makes me think of the “break this record!” button on the Guinness World Records site… an invitation to fun and games unless the particular record being viewed is “Most people killed in a terrorist act”.


  • starman1695 – I realize that some people might “like” the news for the content; such people, in this case, lack humanity.

    cliff1976 – I don’t think that Google intended for this feature to be interpreted the way that I’ve posted here. However the way I’ve interpreted it is very obvious–and had somebody at Google thought about it, they should have realized that the word “like” had multiple meanings; they should have chosen a different word; “interesting” at first thought seems OK.

    Jul – That’s excellent! and disturbing… you’d think the legal department would be thanking them for pointing out the invitation to kill.