Friday, April 25, 2008

Why I like Google Reader

Google has always been one of my favorite search engines, and it's not just because of the nifty artwork that they have on special occasions or because you could change the language interface to Elmer Fudd or pig Latin. ;-) It was just easy to use and easy to read. Then Gmail came along and I got an account. I like that, too. The iGoogle homepage can be very nifty. You can add all sorts of fun widgets and content to it.

When I started blogging, I wasn't sure where I was going with it or whether I'd keep it up. I wasn't even sure what blogging was really about or why one would want to blog. I went with easy and started on Blogger. Blogger has since become affiliated with Google. I may have changed my template, but I've stuck with Blogger for now, even though I can host a Wordpress blog on my own site. It's just easy.

And the evolution continues.... I blog regularly now. I also read blogs out of interest and for inspiration. At last check, I was following roughly 50 blogs, and I seem to keep adding to the list. Needless to say, it would be a mess to click on each one daily to see what's going on. This is where we get to the beauty of RSS feeds and feed readers, aka RSS readers, aka news readers, aka feed aggregators.... Blogs, podcasts, news headlines and the like can be checked regularly for updated content, and that content can be sent on to a subscriber. There are many different aggregators and readers out there. That's why I have a couple of subscription options in my sidebar. I'm not sure what folks typically use. People can receive this info via email or via their reader of choice, and there are lots of both out there.

I like Google Reader. It was easy to set up. I already had a Gmail account. I just had to configure Google Reader to my liking. It's easy to add new subscriptions. You just click on a box, enter the blog URL, and then click on Add. The list is alphabetical. You have the option of seeing all of the subscriptions or just the ones that have been updated. Google checks for updates to all of the blogs and you can read them right there on the main page. If the bloggers have configured the settings of their blogs so that a full blog feed is sent, you don't even necessarily need to navigate away from the Google Reader page. This can be very nice for folks who are on dial-up. It's also nice if you don't like being surprised by a sudden blast of music when you land on a blog page. I hate having to scroll madly looking for a pause button, or having to mute my machine until I can find the player. But you can see and read all of the new, or old, content of blogs that you're interested in. You can also filter your feeds so that it's easier to navigate to specific blogs in your list. I have a filter (or tag) for weekly stamping challenges and one for non-stamping-related blogs, just as a couple of examples. You can also star a blog post to make it easy to find.

Another perq is that you can share blog posts. Google compiles them all on a page for you. You can add them to your blog as a widget, too. I have one in my sidebar for the weekly stamping challenges that I participate in. I change the shared posts in Google Reader from week to week by ticking or unticking the box next to "Share" at the bottom of each post, and those changes are automatically updated to my blog. Easy peasy.

There are other settings that you can tweak, but I think that gives you an idea of some of what Google Reader can do. I've had occasion to use Google Documents. I use Google Calendar regularly. I guess it just makes sense that I do my blog reading via Google, too. But I think if you're new to reading blogs and figuring out subscriptions and RSS, then Google Reader is an easy way to get your feet wet. Just offering my 2 cents worth. :-)


  1. I agree with everything you said about Google Reader, I love it. But I need to know where you got the widget for your shared items, please. I have shared items as well but I think they are fairly invisible on my sidebar. Thanks!

  2. Jackie, you're gonna kick yourself! ;-) You can set it up thru Google Reader. :-) Click on your Shared Items. You should see a link that will say, Put a clip on your site or blog. Click that. Fill in your title, choose your color, number of items, and whether you want to show the site of origin for the shared post. Then you copy and paste the code, or you click the handy dandy Add to Blogger button. Place your widget where you want it on your page, and voila!

  3. You are a genius - thank you so much! I spent an HOUR or more last night looking for the stupid widget to do it with and it was right there all along....*sigh*. It's done now and I love it.


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