Google Reader

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As a lot of my friends know, I spend a ridiculous amount of time
reading RSS feeds in Google Reader. I follow a grand total of something like 96 feeds, and I
usually wake up each day with something over 200 unread items, and
then another 100-200 in the evening. A lot of these are things like
BBC and NYTimes articles for which I only skim headlines, but I
probably read in depth a good 50-70 articles per day.

Recently I’ve also been playing with the social and tracking tools
that GReader includes, which are becoming more and more useful to me.
Each article has a little “Share” button under it, and clicking this
adds the article to a feed which other users can see. It also tags
the article with a small comment feed and an optional area to leave a
note at the top, almost as if you had just blogged about the article.

This gets published in GReader, as its own web page (mine is here), and as
an Atom feed which other people can subscribe to in any feed reader. You
can control how public or private this all is. This is a pretty
obvious targeting of Twitter, but I think it occupies its own niche as
Twitter does not easily connect with RSS on the article discovery
side. And Twitter is less about link sharing and more about
conversation anyway.

The pool of people who auto-discover your feed through GReader
consists of your GChat contacts. This is useful, but it’d be better
if there were a better way of discovering new feeds, especially from
people you don’t already know and email. Google might be restricting
this through some kind of privacy setting, or I might just not have
found any good ways to find people to follow, but I’d love to be able
to (for example) follow top scientists’ reading that they share from
journals’ rss feeds, without knowing them personally.

Another neat feature they’ve thrown in recently is Trends (under the
home link on the sidebar), which gives you a nice view of your reading
and sharing habits. I don’t know how useful that actually is, but
it’s fun to look at.

Questions, comments, interesting anecdotes? Tweet to me at @ajdecon, or send me an email at ajdecon@ajdecon.org.