I'm actually on vacation, but wanted to highlight a couple of things too cool to miss. We're in the midst of rolling out Following for Blogger, and I've just added the Followers gadget on the sidebar of this blog. Following a blog does a couple of things:
- It tracks the blog in your Reading List on our redesigned dashboard and in Google Reader, giving you a convenient way to check for updates from the things you're following;
- Your picture shows up in the Followers gadgets of the blogs you follow (if the blog has the Followers gadget).
The Followers gadget lets you surf the network of people who read and interact with blogs. Just click on any of the followers and you'll go to their profile. For now, that profile is just their Blogger profile page with the blogs they own.
...but down the road, we'll also be integrated with Friend Connect. Which will open up this network further, in a couple of ways: A non-Blogger site can add a Friend Connect gadget to show the people following it; and you can filter the followers of a blog to show only the friends you already have on your favorite social network. Which you can view as extending your social network out into the blogosphere, or as the blogosphere incorporating all social networks -- take your pick. Of course all of this is based on OpenSocial, so anyone will be able to add gadgets and talk the OpenSocial protocol to access, with user permission, all of this network data and do new and interesting things on top of it.
This represents a natural evolution of the loosely joined, standards-based pieces that have always characterized blogging. Look for more evolution in the future :).
The other thing: I'm composing this in Chrome, Google's new browser, just launched to beta this week (and it seems to work well with Blogger). There are so many great things going on inside Google; it's great to see Chrome get launched. I have nothing whatsoever to do with Chrome, and I'm cheering for the OSX version so I can run it on my laptop; but now I can finally run it at home on my Windows machine.
The common thread between these two releases is that both are working with open standards to make the whole Web better. Which is why Google is my favorite company.