Friday, April 28, 2006

Google Reader

I have started using Google Reader to keep up with all the blogs I like reading.

I think it is pretty slick. It is an RSS aggregator like Bloglines and others. What makes it better is that it uses AJAX, so everything shows up on one page when you make selections rather than loading a new one. It has hot keys to make navigation very quick.

It is cool in that it is almost like an email inbox for your blogs. Once you sign up with the RSS feeds for all your favorite blogs, the Google Reader goes out and finds the latest versions. When you login you see a list of all the posts you haven't read yet. You can quickly go through them and either read them, or star them to be read later.

The downside to Google Reader, is that it is almost like an email inbox. It makes you feel like you need to read each one to make sure you aren't missing anything good. It is similar to the Tivo effect. Before Tivo there was never anything good on TV so that was frustrating. Once you have Tivo, then there is too much good stuff to watch. And you get that stress that you never had before when you start filling up with TV shows that you want to watch but you don't have the time.

You can also tag entries ala or gmail so you can store them by topic for later retrieval. There is a sharing feature so you can share your list of starred articles with others, or easily take a post and add it to your blog.

The starred articles stores all the posts that you liked. So a few weeks later, if you think, oh where was that article I was reading, you can quickly scan through the starred posts, or search through them.

My Yahoo has RSS feed integration in their site, but they just show you the latest 5 posts. And if you want to read them you have to click on the link. The Google Reader makes it much quicker to scan through all the posts on your favorite blogs and also make sure that you aren't missing any.

The stared articles also lets you know how many good articles a day you are finding. You can go back and say, on average I am finding 3 articles a day that are worth reading. You can figure out which blogs are giving you the most per day, and what percentage of their posts are worth reading.

There are a couple of things I wish it handled better. First, there is no easy way to go through it blog by blog. I wish there was a drop down of blog titles, so you could go through them one at a time if you wanted. Second, adding new blogs is kind of kludgy. It works, but it isn't so intuitive.

Can't wait for the Sony ebook reader to come out. What I would really dig is if they could integrate the Google Reader into the Sony ebook reader. When I wake up in the morning, I would sync my ebook and get the latest blog posts. Then I could quickly browse through all the articles and star which ones I like, and then read just those. When I sync the ebook the next time, it would take this info and put it back on the Google server, so my repository of articles that I like would be saved. Slick interface for reading, rating, sorting and storing blog articles. Of course I also wish it could handle newspaper and magazine articles as well.

Overall, I think Google Reader is a winner and you should check it out if you are looking for a fast and easy to use news aggregator.

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