I decided to do a post on Google Reader because I realized the other day that not everyone is using Google Reader yet, and I’d like to nudge you in that direction. Before I give you a tutorial on how to use Google Reader, let me tell you why this is The Best Thing Ever.
I started using Google Reader after a blog that I visit had a name that photo contest and because I checked her blog first thing in the morning and she didn’t post it until sometime around 9:00am or 10:00am, I missed out on the contest. I probably wouldn’t have won (the people who enter her contest are clev. er.), but I was irritated that even though I checked her blog religiously every. single. ($#@%&) day, I still missed the contest. So I signed up for Google Reader and an addiction was born.
If you’ve been on the fence about using a feed reader (that’s what Google Reader is), or if you don’t know what Google Reader is, please continue reading. Even if you’re already using Google Reader, please read on, ’cause I think there’s some stuff I know that you don’t know. Neener neener neener.
Google Reader is a Web-based aggregator, or feed reader. Basically what it does is give you a place that you can see any updated content on blogs (or even news headlines or podcasts) without having to go check those blogs yourself. For example, I lurve my friend Lisa’s blog, Books on the Brain, but she doesn’t post every day. So I can start to feel kind of stalker-ish when I’m going to her site daily (or multiple times a day) to see if she’s posted anything new. With Google Reader, though, I just wait until her new post shows up in my Reader. This is the perfect idea for those of us with tendencies toward obsessive-compulsiveness.
This is what Google Reader looks like:
This is the ‘Home’. I am subscribed to 129 different blogs. Would you be able to check 129 blogs every day? I couldn’t either, but it doesn’t matter with Google Reader. As you can see, there’s quite a few new posts waiting to be read, but it doesn’t bother me because I read some here or there, sometimes I’m caught up sometimes I’ve got 75 posts to read. But I don’t read each word of each post. Some book reviews don’t interest me, so I’ll mark those as read.
Google Reader will search for updates from all of your websites automatically, but if you’re impatient you can always click Refresh on the left hand side and your Reader is updated with posts that were written minutes previously.
Someone asked me if I am bombarded by updates that people make to posts. Google Reader doesn’t alert you to any changes the blogger may have made, but the changes are eventually corrected in the Reader the next time that the Reader pulls a new post from that blog (I used very scientific methods to figure this out!), though you may never realize it.
If you notice on the right hand side, under Top Recommendations, there’s a yellow star and it says Recently Starred. When I want to come back to someone’s post (either to write down a book or post a comment later on their blog), I just star it so that it doesn’t get lost.
It’s very easy to add subscriptions, just click Add Subscription on the left hand side and copy and paste the address into the box that comes up. This is what it looks like:
If you just don’t have enough blogs to read, Google will make recommendations based on what you already subscribe to.
When you originally subscribe to a blog, Google Reader makes the latest 10 posts unread. This may seem like a pain in the beginning, but just scroll through them (scrolling through a post will mark it as read) so you can start fresh. The really cool part is even though it only shows the latest 10 posts unread, you can access all of a blogs archives in chronological order (as far as I can tell).
Google Reader hit a grand slam for me with one particular blog. Does anyone else read Dooce? I absolutely love her blog, but she does daily photos, and those take a while to load (not to mention you have to click on the correct tab to find them), and she doesn’t post on her main page every single day. But when I added her blog to my subscription, Google Reader grabs every post she does, even if it’s not on her main page. Her daily style photos? Check. Her daily Chuck photos? Check. You should sign up for Google Reader just so you can subscribe to Dooce.
This is what it looks like when you’re reading a post (this is Expanded View):
Or you can make the posts look like this (this is List View):
I even found out that if you read a post and scroll through it (effectively marking it as read) but decide that you still want it to be shown as unread, just click in the box, type ‘m’ on your keyboard, and voila!
Here you have to know that one of the only drawbacks to using a reader is that you don’t get to see the pretty sites that the different bloggers have created, unless you click on the link in Google Reader, which will then take you to the actual website.
You can create folders and tags to organize what you read, though I don’t need to use those at this time. A folder is where you might keep all your Book Blogs, or Craft Blogs, or Whatever Blogs. A tag is something that you label a particular post, for example, Funny, Read This Book, Try This, etc. (I just made up all those names; you would label things however you want.)
There are other services you can use, Bloglines being one of them. But here’s a great side-by-side review of Google Reader and Bloglines.
So what should you do with your newfound expertness on Google Reader? Me, personally, I think you should go sign up here and add me to your subscriptions. 😉 But that’s just what I would do. You can do whatever you want.
Definitely let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to know about Google Reader! I am your Google Reader Expert! 😉