Wednesday, July 23, 2008

New Obsession: Google News Reader

The other day I stumbled across Google Reader, which apparently has been around for years, but somehow I failed to notice its tasty goodness. 48 hours post discovery, and I'm wondering how I ever lived without this humongous time-waster.

Basically with the reader, you tell Google what you like to read, and instead of you having to trudge all the way over to that Web site, Google delivers up all the new headlines from your favorite sites, as soon as they post!

Yah, no big deal, right? Feedburner and a million other feed collectors have done this for geeks for years. The difference here is that all those other feed tools require you to download stuff, and then you have to have this thing living on your computer -- and if I'm remembering correctly, you had to download them on every computer you use. Anyways, ho hum -- none of them quite passed the ease of use test for me.

Google has got this puppy exactly right. Google Reader lives on the Web. And not only is it easy to sign up for new feeds, it's also easy for you to publish them on your blog -- look left! -- or on a separate site. You can also add snarky commentary to stories, or post notes that have nothing to do with news stories.

Your friends can keep tabs on your obsessions by using Google Reader to subscribe to your feed, and see what you're reading about right in their own Google Reader. I'm following my friend Ricky's feed, and I've noticed that we're often reading exactly the same story at exactly the same time. Creepy.

And handyness of handyness, iGoogle is my default Web page, and two things are front and center on it: Google's Most Searched terms (a great app that lets you know what people are obsessing about way before most mainstream news operations report it) plus my Google Reader. Sweet.

The amazing thing is, instead of helping get me through my daily reads quickly, it's actually increased my Web reading time, because now I'm adding all kinds of fringe reads to my daily diet. Before I bounced around between about 15 sites throughout the day. I'm up to 36 -- shit, no, wait -- 44 subscriptions, and growing. Someone, stop the madness!

The bonus is, though, I get to learn about all kinds of things I never would have known before: Someone invented a way to put a push lawnmower on the front of a bike! There's new windows in Japan made out of solar panels strong enough to keep your laptop charged! On the downside, I get 12 versions of the same story when some big geek news happens, like today's Facebook confab.

If you want to try it out, first you need a Google account, which you can sign up for at Then just follow the directions to sign up for Google Reader and to make igoogle your default page. You can find my shared items here. If you start "sharing" too, let me know so I can add your feed.


Mark said...

what a nerd.

Jason Bellamy said...

Michelle: You can also see how many people are subscribed to M&M via Google Reader -- presuming you've subscribed.

In your Reader, go to Trends and then under "Subscription Trends" select "Most Obscure." M&M has five subscribers at current, and I'm one of them. (And The Cooler has you beat with 11. Game on!)

FYI: It seems to me there's some sort of lag in updating the subscription trends. So if you subscribed today, it might not show up until tomorrow or maybe next week.

I rock the Reader.

kateco said...

being your friend is the bomb

kateco said...

your shared news items are now my favorite newspaper

Michelle said...

sweet! :)