Posts Tagged ‘Google Reader’

5 Reasons to Read Blogs, and How!

February 13, 2010 Leave a comment

What’s a Blog?

Blogs are no more than organized web sites that have a series of related “posts”. Posts are individually titled short articles that “fit in” with the overall theme of the blog. For instance, on the TechCrunch blog (one of the worlds most popular technology blogs), the most actively discussed posts are:

Google Plans To Deliver 1Gb/sec Fiber-Optic Broadband Network To More Than 50,000 Homes

Hulu Could Still Launch On The iPad

MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta Steps Down

Each of these posts has well over 100 comments by readers – it is these comments that make the “blogging” platform a social platform. Readers get to interact with the authors/writers in ways that aren’t acceptable or even possible in traditional media.

“and How”… or, How to Read a Blog

You can bookmark all your favorite blogs in your internet browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox or my new favorite – Chrome). This is unwieldy once you start reading a number of blogs – and difficult to organize by subject in your bookmarks tabs. But – this IS a way to read blogs – and may be the preferred method that blog authors would love you to use!

You can also bookmark using any number of social bookmarking sites (like StumbleUpon, Delicious, and Digg). This may also get burdensome for you, especially if you have varied interests. For example – I read a number of blogs in the following categories: social media, small business, Lifehacker, blogging, fly-fishing, sailing, and the list goes on!

My absolute favorite way to read blogs is in Google Reader. You can subscribe to blogs via RSS feed using an aggregator or reader. Initially, this may seem daunting, but after a couple of subscriptions – you’ll be a pro. Read more about Google Reader in this earlier post, “5 Things to Like about Google Reader”.

Ok, now the 5 Reasons to Read Blogs!

1. Keep up to date on subjects that are important to you. You are keenly aware that this is a fast paced world we now live in – blogs are the way to stay in touch with all that info – info that changes from minute to minute.

2. Contribute to the conversation. You’ve become engrossed in a topic/subject that is important to you, so much so – that you either want to ask questions or give your own insights to it. This is where the “comments” section of blogs come in. Type away – and contribute to the topic – just make sure that your add something relevant to the post, and always be polite!

3. Learn about topics that a new to you. Blogs aren’t just about keeping up to date. You can do a blog search by going to as part of your normal search routine – you’ll be amazed at the amount of quality material out there on blogs!

4. Research product purchases. There are a myriad of product reviews on blogs – some sponsored, but a lot of the reviews are valid, well-written and complete. Next time you’re making a purchase – conduct a blog search on the item before you buy.

5. Win free stuff! So many blogs these days are conducting contest to draw in readers, but there are also free invites to use new software join early beta testing of new web sites, etc. If you’re into contests and prizes – there is no better place to jump in than blogs!

The Social IneptiDude, me – John, would love to hear your comments and thoughts on blogs and how you read them!

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5 Things to Like about Google Reader

January 16, 2010 1 comment
Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

Google Reader may very well be the best news/information tool in today’s social media world!  Utilized by Social Media experts (see  1st chapter  in Chris Brogan’s fantastic book “Trust Agents“) – as well as socially “inept” dudes like me, Google Reader will rock your world once you begin to use it.

There are many, many things to like about Google Reader – but here are my favorite five:

The Google Reader Home Page

the home page

The Google Reader home page layout is quite similar to your email inbox.  It is easy to create folders (or categories) for the blogs that you subscribe to.

When you subscribe to a blog – if you’ve never done that – what you are really doing is signing up to receive the blogs RSS feed.  This is a way for blog publishers to get their posts out to interested subscribers – and you, the subscriber to “aggregate” those feeds in an aggregator or “reader”.  This is what Google Reader is all about.

Google Reader Bundles


The quickest way to Google Reader nirvana for beginners is to subscribe to a “bundle” of blogs.  There are bundles that Google has put together in various categories and with one click you will be subscribed to all the blogs that are in that bundle.

Here’s how to do it:  On the left side of your GReader screen, you will see a menu.  If you see a little “+” plus sign next to “Your Stuff” – click on it to expand that menu item.  Then click on “Browse for Stuff”.  You will see a screen that looks like the image directly to the left of this paragraph.  You can select one of the few bundles suggested – or you can click the link to view all 449 (to date) bundles that are available.

This is a great way to get started with Google Reader – highly recommended when getting started, as you can fiddle around with all the GReader setting, tags, etc. – and not worry that you’re missing something dearly important to you.  If you mess something up (I’ve never done this….ha!) you can always re-subscribe to the bundle (this may give you double feeds, you’d unsubscribe to the feeds you don’t want).  I know, this is all starting to sound a little confusing – JUST DO IT!!!  You’ll see that this is all easy and exciting!!  What a great way to learn about subjects that are important to you!!  You don’t have to wait for the news any longer – you’ll always have up to date posts!!

Google Reader “send to”

send to choices...

The choices of what you, the blog reader, can do with each blog post is almost limitless.  I have started to email important items to myself for future reference or saving.  But there are other things you can do.

You can “star” a post, or “like” a post.  You can “share” a post – with or without a note attached.  Change tags, add tags.  Email a post (to yourself or your friends/relatives/business associates).

My current favorite is the “send to” function.  You can send a post to Facebook, Twitter and many other social networks that you might use.  THIS is one of the newest innovations to GReader, and it makes it such a better “social” tool.  I use this function all the time to tweet (remember to give credit to the original blog or poster) – more on that in a future post.

Google Reader Shared Items Page

Here’s where we get into another “social” area of Google Reader !!

On the Shared Items Page, all of the posts that you’ve tagged as “share”  at the bottom of the post – show up on a nicely formatted page with pictures – a little blurb about yourself (if you’ve filled out a Google profile), all in a nice package.  What’s really nice about this feature is that if you have your own website or blog, you can insert a little widget that will display your shared items with the world!!

Google Reader Trends

Click on the “Trends” menu item to find out the percentage of posted items you’ve actually read.  If you notice, the image here show that I have 120 blogs subscribed to, and that I’ve read 265 items, starred 27, shared 0 (not very social!) and emailed 9.  I am using Google Reader to keep up with new innovations in social media.  I currently use Twitter and Facebook to share items that I think will be of interest with my friends and followers – I really don’t use the “share” function of Google Reader right now.  I dto like it, however, and am considering including a widget to shared items right here in my new blog.  If you like this idea, leave me a comment below – love to hear from you!