Saturday, March 16, 2013

How I use Google Reader

There was a time when I subscribed to a dozen e-mailed newsletters. Now I subscribe to 42 RSS feeds. Some of them are daily and things such as Dear Abby. Some are more prolific such as the NYTimes, USA Today, and Failblog. Subscribing to the RSS feeds allows me to make my way through the postings at my own pace. I begin my day by scanning through the headlines. I put a star next to any articles that I think I will want to read, and then mark everything in that category as read. I may only be interested in 2 out of 30 headlines, and this is a quick way to scan through them. Some things such as Failblog collect in the Pictures folder and can reach 50 before I start to go through them. E-mail would never work for how I consume this media. Once a day isn't frequent enough for many of them; breaking news would no longer be breaking. Some websites update irregularly. I wouldn't want to visit 42 websites each day, either. 2000 items go in front of my eyeballs every 30 days. Over time, some feeds have gone into the Probation folder. If I find that their signal to noise ratio is too low for my tastes, I know it is time to move on. Some feeds redeem themselves. Of course with Google Reader, I have access to a synchronized set of headlines from any computer and my smart phone. There are some features that Google Reader has that I don't make much use of. I share maybe one item a week, either through Facebook or Gmail. I am signed up for Google+, but I never go there; I have no incentive to switch from Facebook where my friends (and games) are. While the discovery portion of Google Reader is interesting, I've only used it to pass the time and not found anything new to subscribe to. I already read a lot and am more likely to cull my list than to add to it. But those are my interests and I can imagine how someone else might find it very helpful. There are some areas where I would have hoped for improvement. While headlines can be sorted by oldest, newest, and magic, I don't know what "magic" means. It does not seem to have a concept of trending topics. There is no way to group headlines on a topic such as the demise of Google Reader. When I'm looking at an article, there's no shortcut to find more articles on the same topic. Google News does this, so it shouldn't be hard to implement that for them. So now I have three months to find an alternative. The Save Google Reader petition on has already surpassed 100k signatures. Based on hashtags, ReplaceReader is ranking Reader replacements. Time will tell what will happen next. I shall be patient.

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