Sorry about that headline. It just seems that every medium is getting its own "what's hot" feed these days. Even Twitterheads are getting in the act, with the new Twitlinks (review), which I find of dubious value. I mean, really, we're talking about Twitter here, not the New York Times. But the newly relaunched ReadBurner looks like it could, possibly, become genuinely useful.
It's a simple service. It tracks the number of times items are shared in Google's RSS Reader, and puts the most-recently popular stories (assuming sharing means popularity) at the top of the list. Commentary items also get linked in, Techmeme-like. To round things out, it also lets you access your Google Reader feed from within the Web site.
If you assume Google Reader speaks for blog article popularity, ReadBurner makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately, while Google Reader is a very strong RSS client, there are many smart people on the Web who have alternate methods for reading their feeds (I use Netvibes, although I'm not sure if that makes me a smart person or just different).
The data in the ReadBurner service seems a bit sparse right now, indicating that relying on Google Reader as an arbiter of what's hot may not be the killer model in this space. However, ReadBurner does not suffer from the pile-on effect that you see in Techmeme, where articles get regurgitated in follow-up blog posts until there's nothing left to say about the topic at all. So check out ReadBurner if you're looking for another source of What's Hotness.