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Google Reader burrows deeper into your web-addled brain

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Mountain View has tweaked Google Reader to help tailor content on its Web 2.0 feed more neatly, by tracking a user's online habits.

The search giant has added a new section called “Popular items” to Google Reader. The feature uses algorithms to track well-liked images, videos and pages from the internet. It then orders the items to help speed up a user’s search for content.

Accordingly, Google points out why the technology will stop you looking like an out-of-touch chump.

“Now you don't have to be embarrassed about missing that hilarious video everyone is talking about - it should show up in your ‘Popular items’ feed automatically,” it said in a blog post yesterday.

The firm has also rejigged its recommendations feature by shifting it to a newly created Explore section. The option has been renamed “Recommended sources”, but it still uses the Reader Trends and Web History features to pull a list of individually targeted feeds together.

And Google also sprinkled a bit of, er, fairy dust on Reader by creating a sort option dubbed “Magic” that creepily re-orders items in the feed based on personal usage and overall activity, instead of setting a bog standard chronological order on the feed.

“Unlike the old ‘auto’ ranking, this new ranking is personalised for you, and gets better with time as we learn what you like best - the more you ‘like’ and ‘share’ stuff, the better your magic sort will be.” ®

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