Back in iHCPL: A learning Experience, we looked at Bloglines in Thing 8 as a way to subscribe to and read RSS feeds. In this post, we're going to look at Google Reader as a better feed reader.
As a refresher, RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and is used to deliver updated information to a feed reader or aggregator. You can usually spot websites that have RSS feeds by the orange icon on the right, or a variation thereof. In Internet Explorer the icon shows up just above the screen and Mozilla Firefox the icon shows up in the address bar if a feed exists. You can click on the icon to subscribe to the feed, or copy the link and add it in your reader.
Why subscribe to feeds? Instead of having to go check your favorite sites or blogs to see if there's an update, the updates come to you. There are thousands of blogs out there as well as newspapers, magazines, and other media that have feeds on just about any topic you can imagine. Using a reader, you'll know instantly when there's something new.
Beyond Bloglines, there are a number of options to read feeds including from within Internet Explorer and using My Yahoo. So why use Google Reader? There are several reasons:
- Two options for viewing feeds. The Expanded view shows the complete content of each post. The List view is an overview by blog name, post title and date - if you want a quick view to see if there's anything of interest.
- More Sharing Options. At the bottom of each Expanded post, there are multiple ways to share a post.
- Email lets you share by email and if you have a Gmail account you can access your address book.
- Send to offers posting directly to social sites; set-up where you post through settings. Options include Twitter and Facebook .
- Share and Share with Note adds the post to your shared page to which friends can view or subscribe - you decide through settings what is public.
- Like. When you click Like, it adds a note to the post that you liked it. If other users have liked a post, it will show you that as well. You can see who liked it - and they can see you, so do be aware of this. This feature is being used in the Google Play, currently being tested in Google Labs. Google Play shows you items of intereste based on what you like.
- Mobile. You can read Google Reader on a smart phone at reader.google.com.
- Import/Export. In Settings-Reader, you can import feeds from another aggregator, so if you want to switch from Bloglines, for example, export your feeds from there and then import them to Google Reader.
- Take the tour or sign-up and try the service out. Do you currently use a feed reader? If so which one do you use? Would you switch to Google Reader if you don't already use it? Why or why not?
- Take a look at some of your favorite sites. Do they have feeds? If they do, subscribe to one of the feeds. Hint: Our website has feeds.
Image: Flickr CC: The duckies invade Google: Yodel Anecdotal