* Recursive Blogging FAIL @ThomasCBowen @CThilk @cwcoxjr @rklau @intersectionfail

It took a month, but the intertweets found the limits of Google Reader Shared Items Notes. It’s about 64K. Mmkay?

About a month ago, Henry, Rick, Thomas, Erik, Chris, and William started having a conversation in Google Reader Shared Items Notes. On 11/05/08, Rick Klau tried to explain, also in a Google Reader Shared Item Note (sorry, no permalink, I’m sure Google is working on that), what was going on (it’s kind of meta):

We have officially reached the point of no return. Documenting for the poor souls now watching this trainwreck unfold in slow motion over a course of a few days:

Erik posts to ping.fm. Which goes to Twitter. Which has a feed. Which he subscribes to in Google Reader. Which he then shares using Google Reader. To talk to someone else in Google Reader, via my shared items. Using Twitter nomenclature. With the wrong username.

I apologize, Internets. They know not what they do. And I can not be held accountable for this travesty of content abuse.

(Anyone pointing out that I am documenting this in a Google Reader shared item, which mirrors to FriendFeed, which then shows up on my blog and Facebook will be shot. Because that’s, like, totally different.)

Aside from all the silliness, there was serious purpose in all of this. The “Notes” box in Google Reader Shared Items is about 140 characters large (the size of a Twitter Tweet – coincidence?), but users soon discovered that you could post much larger Notes. An so I asked, What is the maximum length for a Google Reader Shared Items Note?

Soon an experiment was born. I blogged about recursive blogging. Then others shared that post. Then I shared their shared item in a Google Reader Shared Items Note. And the Note part of the Google Reader Shared Items got larger every day. This went on for about a month.

As the size of the note approached 64K, odd things started happening. I would share something and not see in in my own Shared Items, but Thomas would share it back, so it was getting shared. When I read it in Google Reader, sometimes the original article was no longer visible, but the Note was.

Human sacrifice, dogs and cats, living together, mass hysteria!

Here are some takeaways:

  • Google Reader Shared Items Notes have a practical limit of about 64 K.
  • If you subscribe to person A’s Shared Items, and they share person B’s shared items, there is no way for you to discover the Shared Items feed for person B. This lead to lots of “What’s your feed?” Notes getting shared back and forth.
  • You can sometimes find Shared Items feeds from Google Profile Search.
  • As Chris said, the best utilization of Web 2.0 is to give your friends a hard time!

And since a picture is worth a thousand words, here’s a thousand pictures to explain this in even more detail. It’s actually 42 pictures, but that’s the answer to everything, so you already knew that.

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