It’s already been a big week for me. Yesterday I guest blogged for agent and blogger extraordinaire Nathan Bransford. Woo hoo! What an honor. And today is my 50th post on my own blog since creating it earlier this year. If I wanted to be literal, I suppose yesterday’s post on Nathan’s blog would actually have been my 50th, making it my golden post, using traditional anniversary symbols. There’s something poetic about that, I think.
I’ve followed Nathan’s blog (as well as those of several other agents) for some time now. I also follow the blogs of friends and people I’ve met online, my favorite authors, and those of a couple of publishers. I’ve struggled with finding a good way to keep up with the blogs I liked. I tried subscribing so they came to my e-mail—and then either deleted them or put them in a “to be read” file that never got read. I tried making the blogs one of my favorites but usually forgot about it until I was looking for something else. I tried putting the links in a document titled “Favorite Blogs” on my desktop but it too would remain unopened. I even tried adding them to my toolbar but they got in the way of all the other links I’d put there. None of my methods worked and I found myself reluctant to add additional blogs, no matter how much I liked them, to a dysfunctional system.
I discovered Google Reader when I took an online blogging class and the teacher wanted us to follow each other’s posts. Eureka! A simple way to organize my favorite blogs. There may be other (and maybe even better) ways to do this but GR works for me.
With Google Reader, I have all the blogs I follow in one place, sorted and organized in folders I’ve named. Since using GR I’ve found I’m much more likely to add a blog to my reading list because I know I’ll actually read it. For example, I think Nathan is going to have a total of ten guest bloggers while he’s away from his office. As I’ve read these posts each day (and marveled that mine is one of them) I’ve added their blogs to my GR in a folder titled Nathan’s Guest Bloggers and Others so I’ll remember where I found them. I’m also adding the blogs of those who left interesting comments or who visited my blog and left a comment (thus the “others”. Now I open my reader from my toolbar, scan my topics for “new” posts and read them as they come in. If you get way behind you can mark everything as “read” and start over.
Maybe I’m the only person in computer-land who was unaware of its existence, but just in case there are others, I’ll tell you a little more about Google Reader. It works like an inbox for the entire web. It constantly checks news sites and blogs you’ve designated for new information. When there’s an update the category and title become bold just like a new e-mail. It can read both Atom and RSS feeds—I guess that’s good—either online or off line.
Supposedly GR works on any mobile phone browser too. I’m not there yet—I’m doing good just to check my e-mail and use the GPS on my DROID. Even then I have to find reading glasses to read the oh-so-small display. Other, more advanced (for me), features include creating a GR public page where one can share favorites by sending links to friends. There’s also a customizable clip that displays the items you’ve shared on your website or blog’s sidebar according to the online information about Google Reader.
Maybe one day I’ll venture out and try some of its other features, but for now I like how Google Reader organizes my blogs so I actually remember to read them. If you’re interested in adding this technology to your computer just Google it (sorry, I couldn’t resist) “Google Reader” and follow the directions. It must be easy. I did it.