Today I’m returning to the topic of digital organization. My first post on the topic was directed toward my email Inbox, but today I am turning my attention toward keeping up with all the blogs that I follow.
I love writing, and I love reading blogs. It seems like every time I find a new blog to follow it connects me with others and keeping up with them all can become overwhelming. For awhile, I subscribed to most blogs by having them sent to my Inbox, but that got old fast. The more connected our world gets, the more I want my Inbox to be set aside for just my friends, family, and important business contacts so I don’t see 5,000 unread emails staring at me each morning. Or better yet, I’d rather just see my loved ones in person or speak on the phone.
I had tried using RSS subscription services in the past, but they always seemed so clunky and I couldn’t easily browse them like I thought I should be able to do. Reluctantly at first, I dabbled with Google Reader. That dabbling quickly became my central hub for tracking all of the blogs I found and enjoyed.
Here’s why I like me some Google Reader:
- Sorting – I can sort by newest, oldest, or “by magic.” I’m not exactly sure what “by magic” does, but it came up with a post full of human interest and lots of photos of people doing family things, mixed in with some DIY and hairstyle tips. So maybe it sorts by content? (A quick check online indicates it works a bit like iTunes Genius … it shows you content similar to the feeds you check the most. I think it got it right in my case, too.)
- Access – There is a frame on the left-hand side that keeps up with all my feeds, alphabetically, so I can skip right to the one I really want to read if I’m not in a slowly browsing kind of mood. Or you can hide them all with a quick click of the button and just browse away, based on the sorting method chosen.
- Playtime – You can view your items in “Reader Play”, which, instead of a vertical read, shows up as an item-by-item timeline, similar to how you would view digital photographs or iTunes music in browse. It has a black background, instead of the usual white background.
- Suggestions – Browse for Stuff > Recommendations is brilliant. While it did suggest many blogs I already follow, that just goes to show it really works. And yes, I’ve added blogs this way.
- Simplicity – Despite my love for new technology, I’ve become an old fuddy duddy in that I like my tech simple. I don’t want a million new ways to do things, I just want one way to do things quickly, easily, without hassle, and without too many visual distractions. Google Reader does this for me. I love it.
So, here’s a screen shot from this morning’s feed:
This was from a “Sort by Newest,” and it showed my feed from Design to Inspire’s newest post. You can see that on the left is my lineup, as well as browsing options. Across the top is where I can mark items as read, sort my feeds, etc.
Here is a sample of viewing in “Reader Play,” sorted by Magic:
Uh, hello. Star Wars snowflake tutorial? Sign me up!
And that’s about it. I just keep rolling the scroll wheel on my mouse and can browse all my favorite and new favorite sites at my leisure. Now the only problem is keeping my list pared down to the essentials and not wasting time. But that’s another post.
Until then, have a lovely day! And go sign up for Google Reader so you can keep all your favorite reads in one spot. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be hunting for that lovely RSS feed logo on each blog you visit and clicking away, happy in the knowledge that you can visit at any time you please simply by signing into Google Reader when the time is right for you.