Monday, April 14, 2008

How I love my Google Reader ...

I've been meaning to write this post for ages, and I actually have more to write than I have time for tonight, but I've just found another way to love love love my Google Reader, so I couldn't wait any longer to profess my love from the blogtops.*

I love reading blogs. I have an addiction, actually. I love being able to tap in to content that is specifically geared to my interests. I love being able to keep up with news and information in one place. I love getting little glimpses of stuff from random small corners of the planet.

But I'm also kind of lazy. Not too lazy, but lazy enough that I don't want to bookmark and re-visit blogs I love or places where I need to get information. I like it all brought right to me and dropped right in to my lap. Which is why I'm so glad a friend introduced me to a feed reader more than a year ago. I started on Bloglines, which was fine, but at some point I switched to Google Reader and I am sooooo in love. I'd bet that a lot of the things I mention are applicable in other readers, so feel free to chime in in the comments if you use other readers for similar purposes.

The obvious: subscribing to blogs
So when I see a great post on the Craftzine blog or find a link to a random blog, I'll often want to keep up with what that blogger is posting about. Subscribing is the way to go. With Google Reader, I was able to install a little "subscribe" button in the menu bar of Firefox. Anytime I stumble on a blog I like, I just jab that little subscribe button and - whammo - it's heading straight to my Reader and I'm able to keep up with it whenever it updates. I subscribe to several new blogs a day (I told you - I have an addiction, and this all reminds me that I need to update my blog roll ....)

Mostly I'm subscribing to craft blogs, but the other kind of blogs I subscribe to are my friends' blogs. Several of my friends, especially ones with kids, have blogs and it's become a great way to keep up with them. Remember when you used to get miffed if someone didn't have an email address and you kinds of felt like, "Well, don't expect me to be able to stay in touch?" I'm starting to feel that way about blogs. If you want me to keep up with you, blog, dammit! Let me subscribe and I'll faithfully keep up with you. I've connected with several friends from high school and college recently, and through their blogs I've been able to catch up to the point where it feels like it hasn't been 10 years since we've seen each other. I love it.

News and stuff
All my favorite new sources have feeds. Boom - I'm up-to-date.

Flickr
Second to blogs, I'm a Flickr addict. Crafty inspiration, pictures from friends and families, I love seeing new pictures and hate missing out on them. I got super excited when I noticed the little RSS icon on the Flickr pages. DUH! I can subscribe and get the pictures in my Reader. I subscribe to my friends' pictures, groups I'm in, I can even subscribe to the comments I've made on pictures and discussions in the groups. I love being able to keep up with pictures this way. I used to miss a few days on Flickr and I'd go back to the Embroidery group and be overwhelmed by all the new pictures posted. Now I can just zip through them as they are posted right there in my Reader.

Searches
I can enter a Google blog search, subscribe to it and have it feed right to my Reader. It's kind of like a Google Alert, but I like it even better. I can search things in which I'm interested, something I'm researching for work, anything - and have it delivered nice and neat into my Reader.

Sharing
Ah. Sharing. This is one of my favorite things. I can set up contacts through Reader and then as I'm scrolling through items, if I find one that I think is interesting I can click a little "share" button, and the item feeds into my contacts' Readers. Right now I have just a few contacts, so when we "share" items, it's like we know we're posting something just for the other person. It's like a little secret or something. I love it.

But now I've found something with sharing items that makes me love it even more! I knew that I could make page that updated my shared item feeds, and that people can actually subscribed to my shared items, but I've just discovered I can actually add a dandy little widget to my blog sidebar (look! It's over there! Right above the Stitch Lab logo! It's all cute!) so that my shared items just update there. This is bliss to me. The one thing I love more than reading blogs is sharing fun little tidbits I find with people. Now, even if you aren't one of my contacts, you can see my little shared items. I read hundreds of blog posts and feeds and search results a day, and now I can easily pop my favorites right here for you. You can either keep up with the sidebar widget or subscribe to my shared items using this feed. (in your Reader, 'cause I'm hoping by now I've convinced you to use one if you aren't already)

Discover
This is another fun one I don't play with enough. You can click on the discover link and Reader will actually pull up blogs that are similar in content to ones to which you already subscribe. It's a great way to find new reads.

Organizing it All
To keep my Reader from getting all wonky, I've got it organized a little bit. I've got folders set up for the main categories into which my subscriptions fall. It makes it easier to scroll through items. Here's how mine are set up right now:

Crafty Blogs - obvious - right now, I'm at 257. (yikes. I didn't realize I was that far gone ...)
Fun! - kinda obvious. Here's where I've got stuff like Cute Overload, Awesome, Officially Awesome, Minor Tweaks, Garfield Minus Garfield, Bent Objects, etc.
Kids - believe it or not, some of my friends' kids have blogs of their own. I've subscribed to them here.
Mom-Blogs - I'm a mom. Most of my friends are moms. Loads of them have blogs. Here's where they go. This is great for keeping up with my friends when we don't have time to sit around and talk. Sad but true.
Flickr - Here's where I've subscribed to pictures. I've subscribed to my contacts' pictures, certain groups, people, etc.
Flickr Discussion - here's where group discussions land, as well as comments subsequent to ones I make on pictures.
Organization-Productivity - sadly, the group with the fewest subscriptions ...... but also one of my favorites.
Subscriptions - I didn't have a better name, but here's where I've put all the random searches I've subscribed to.

If you are using a feed reader in a similar way, or know of better ways to use Google Reader, feel free to comment.
*(I'd post some pictures of favorite items that have popped up in my Reader, but since I've got to be at the Gym to meet a friend and drool over Bead Simple while we ellipticize at 5:30 tomorrow morning ... I better sign off. Just go visit their blogs- there's great stuff out there. )

20 comments :

  1. WOW. You're really rocking the old Google Reader. You've given me a few new things to try, too. Thanks!!

    . . . Let me just take an opportunity here to mention how much better I've liked Google Reader than Bloglines, too.

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  2. Okay, you sold me! but, for the life of me I can't find the reader thing I put on the toolbar, any tips?

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  3. Hoorah for selling you, Krissy!

    Now here's how you add the subscription button: open Google Reader and then click the "settings" link in the top right corner of the screen. Then go to the "Goodies" tab and scroll down (read the other stuff that's there, too, but the part I'm talking about here is at the bottom) You'll see the info on adding it to your toolbar.

    I also meant to add that I love being able to email posts to people right from Google Reader. I have a lot of friends and family who don't read blogs at all, so they won't see my shared items, etc. At the bottom of a post in Reader, there's an "email" button. I can click it and send it (it even pulls from my Gmail contacts!). I do this all the time - I'll see something that makes me think of someone and in one click I can email it to them.

    LOVE.IT.

    did I mention I'm an addict ..... ;)

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  4. Sold me too--I'm going to try it also to feed my new found crafty blog and flickr addictions...Maybe we should all start a support group... :)

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  5. And now you are in my google reader!!!

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  6. Well, you convinced me too. I switched over all my bloglines.
    Thanks for the Tip!

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  7. Wow - I bow to your bloginess! I have Google Reader, and I, um...read blogs in it. I've never searched, or looked for similar ones, or used little widgets, or anything. Gad - I feel about 80 years old all of the sudden. "Back in my day, you had to TYPE IN THE URL to see what the whipper-snappers had posted!" Off to go make full use of Google Reader.

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  8. Hi! Guess how I found you... You "shared" a post I made on my blog, and so your blog appeared as a referral in my blog stats. I love how we're all connected that way!

    I'm a definite Google Reader convert myself. I love sharing little tidbits on my blog sidebar, too. You know what else is great? I use Google Reader to generate my blogroll! This way, the blogroll will always reflect my true reading habits. Love that.

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  9. "I use Google Reader to generate my blogroll!"

    what what what what what!?

    DO TELL! That sounds fantastic! How do you do it! :)

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  10. Got your attention with that one? LOL!

    You know how you went into Settings to grab the code for including your shared items on your blog? Well, go to that same place. You should see all of the tags you used for the different categories. There is an icon next to each tag that you can press to indicate that you want to be able to share the tag. Once you press it, all of those same options that you see next to your Shared Items tag will also appear next to all of the other tags. You can then share each tag the same way that you share the Shared Items.

    Does that make any sense at all? Not sure I'm explaining it clearly.

    What I do, since I have more subscriptions than is humanly possible to read, I've created a hierarchy in my reader. For instance, I have a "crafty" tag for everything crafty and a "aaa-read-me-crafty" tag for my absolute favorite crafty reads. The aaa one goes right up to the top of the alphabetical list so I see it and read it first. The regular one only gets read if I have the time. I do this with all of my categories, and I share the aaa ones on my blog as my blogroll.

    Hope that helps. Let me know if you need me to clarify anything!

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  11. Thanks! I got it! I hope to be as google-knowledgeable as you! :-)

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  12. polka dot - you are my HERO. That is so cool. You just saved me LOADS of time. Of course, my addiction is out there in the open now .... but still, you saved me AGES! THANK YOU!

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  13. ooooh, i love posts like this. you put some great stuff and ideas! i have 10 tabs myself - main stuff i read everyday, crafts, latino, mac, books, etc...i feel so caught up on the world! i keep trying to subscribe to your blog but can find the feed button! am i a dork, or what?

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  14. ah, i finished reading the comments and have learned so much! you are my subscriber sensei!

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  15. Nice post! I thought I was the only geeky one! ;-)

    I too switched from bloglines, but now I actually use both readers! Plus I use del.ico.us for bookmarks that is not in my feeds! Crazy time consuming but fun!

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  16. Oh by the way, I have a category / folder on my link love page called "Living a good life" - you'll find both organization and other great reads there! :-)

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  17. Okay, I'm so sucked into using it now! That was such a fantastic explanation of how to use it (and I got to pick up even more tips in your comments!)

    Fantastic post & you're in my reader now!

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  18. I've always used a firefox plugin to read blogs - and I love it! I have everything separated into folders and it's fairly easy to keep up on.

    Course it's only on my computer so I can't read if I'm using my husbands or if I'm on my blackberry. I've been debating starting to use Reader just for that purpose. I suppose I just may. LOL

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  19. Face palm!!! I didn't know you could add stuff from flickr!!! I am so excited! I am so addicted to my google reader! I just wish they could view tumblr blogs easier!

    Thanks for the tips!

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  20. thanks for the tips....i love google reader too!!!

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XOX
Rach