Excelente! Google Reader Goes Polylingual
Many people, including yours truly right now, are writing about the new feature in Google Reader that automatically translates RSS feeds in multiple languages.
So if I find something written in Japanese, I can do the following (see a picture here), according to Chrix Finne, a Google Reader product manager:
Next time you find an interesting feed in another language, just subscribe to it as normal in Reader. When you view the feed in Reader, check off "Translate into my language" in the feed settings, and (voila!) the feed will be immediately translated for you.
Google Reader is getting mucho love for this new perk in the blogosphere, but no one appears to be asking the obvious.
How would I know if a blog post I'd stumbled upon that was written in Japanese was good or not? I don't speak or read Japanese! That premise is absurd. Am I supposed to guess the content would be useful for me? I think not.
ReadWriteWeb notes that the translation service works on shared items, as well, but I don't have the time to see what other people are reading. I prefer to pick new blogs up as they are vetted by my colleagues.
As a journalist, I have a good dozen Web sites I scour daily for useful content, either as news sources or background. The sites are in English, which I can comprehend (though some would debate this). If they don't hook me by the headline, I'm done with them because I look for very specific interest areas.
If a blog post is in another language, I'm not going to find out whether it's useful content or not.
It's noble that Google's translation team is trying to break down the broad barriers between the world's languages (in the context of a 20 percent-time project, no less), but unless there is a tag over a Bulgarian blog that says "must read" (in English, of course, or even Spanish), I'm moving on.