Newsgator is great, but it is not intuitive enough, and it wasn’t working for me lately, Attensa Online was a bit buggy and slow when I used it 6 months ago, NewsAlloy is too advanced, and Alesti and NewsHutch are excellent, but not competitive enough for my purpose.
Bloglines is really looking great lately, and it has always been speedy, and has good management features, but it wasn’t advanced enough, and it doesn’t have river of news reading.
Rojo has personalisation, voting, feeds can live in multiple tags, you can save/tag, flag items, etc…but it could be faster, and it is just too buggy.
I really like the simplicity and speed of Google Reader, pity it doesn’t have some of the advanced features of Feeds 2.0:
- personalisation (tracking reading behaviour and voting/rating)
- memetracking (clustering similar items)
- word burst tag cloud (read content by topic)
- recommendation (feeds and posts)
But Feeds 2.0 is still young and not fast enough, also you can’t keep feeds in multiple folders.
So why do I like Google Reader?
It hasn’t got the advanced features of Feeds 2.0, but then again Google needs to impress a general user audience as well. Apart from advanced features what’s most important to me is a faster reading experience, and this is where Google Reader shines, and not only that, they have introduced a clipping feature where you can essentially have as many clip blogs as you like, handy to share links on a public page.
Most importantly, you can read a river of news.
As you scroll through posts, you can set it to automatically mark as read, this way if I haven’t got time to read the rest of the feed I can just close it down…next time I open the feed, the posts I’ve read aren’t there, and the posts I haven’t yet read are still there.
Previously on Rojo I would set the page to display 50 items, and if I didn’t have time to finish reading these 50 items, it was too bad, I either had to mark the feed as read or leave it all unread…if I left it unread, then I would have to go over all the posts I’ve read again, just because I had not finished reading all the posts.
Rojo alleviated this by introducing “mark page as read”, Feeds 2.0 also has this…so if I had 100 posts in a feed to read I could read the first page (50 posts), and “mark the page as read”, and close Rojo, next time I read that feed those 50 posts I’ve read won’t be there, and the 50 posts I didn’t get a chance to read will still be there.
Back to Google Reader…
If you do have it set to auto mark posts as read as you scroll, you can still go back to a post and mark a single post as read (and it will stay that way even though you will scroll back down).
If you have it set to manually marking posts as read, it is the usual experience…mark a feed as read when you are finished, you can also mark or unmark single items as read.
And if you don’t like scrolling you can use the next/previous item button…plus, when you click a feed to read you don’t have to wait for all the posts to load up, you can start reading, and the rest of the posts will load up as you get to them.
All this makes for a quick and easy reading experience, lets face it, sometimes we don’t have much time to read, and ‘cause we do it daily we need it time senstive as possible.
Another amazing feature is the Next bookmarklet, drag this to your links bar…whenever you are on the web and want to read new items on your Google Reader, you don’t even have to launch it. Just click “next” and that brings you to the native blog post of your newest unread item, then click next again, and again…reading your unread posts, like turning pages of a book (NOTE: these posts are automatically marked as read).
You can customise the bookmarklet so it is not just your next unread item for your whole account, but the next unread item within a tag.
You can choose to have your subscriptions list only show feeds that have unread posts.
There is a choice of expanded view or list view:
“In list view, items are marked as read when you click on them. In expanded view, items are marked as read when you scroll past them. Uncheck the mark-as-read box to leave the item unread. “
Read by “list view” is not exactly a river of news as posts are still sorted by feeds.
You can even set it that when you launch Google Reader it will launch to All items, Shared items, Starred items, or choose a tag/folder.
Read items by date or by auto-sort:
“The “All items” link shows you items from all of your subscriptions. You can choose to auto-sort this list so that feeds with few posts (for example a friend’s blog) rise above feeds that post more frequently. This allows you to catch those posts that might otherwise fall into the background because of other high volume subscriptions. “
Still not sure what this is, it is some type of ranking feeds in your subscription list.
Check out all the hotkeys.
Actions for posts
- View all items, starred items, shared items
- Read by feed or folder/tag river of news
- Feed can appear in multiple tags/folder
- Choice to display just unread items, or all items
For each item I can star, share, email, mark as read, edit tag
…what happened to blog this?
You can star items which to me is different than saving, I usually use star when I want to read it later, after that, then I may choose to save it in a social bookmark manager….although you can tag an item, then look at it later on, but it is not a proper bookmarking module.
I can still mark starred items read/unread, well not items, but “mark all as read”.
Can’t order folders or feeds.
You can rename a feed, but you can’t rename a folder.
When I subscribe to a feed I’d like to be able to tag it then and there.
You can export and import an OPML, but export isn’t unique…again I’d like an OPML for each tag/folder.
See Feeds 2.0 post for lots of things I want out of an RSS Reader.
Can’t search within a feed, a folder or whole account…I see this could be done with Google Blog Search, this is how you search my blog (not feed I suppose):
blogurl:http://libraryclips.blogsome.com folksonomy…plus you get an RSS feed, sometimes called a “smart feed”.
If you had 2 feeds in a folder, it could do this, but it doesn’t work for me:
rss (blogurl:libraryclips.blogsome.com OR blogurl:cleverclogs.org)
The most awesome feature is that you can share items that go to a Shared clip blog, this also has an RSS feed…or you can choose to keep this private.
WATCH OUT BLOGLINES!
Well not really, Bloglines clip blog is pretty good, it has a blogroll, date archive, and you can curate your blog or even publish your own post without having to clip something.
Bloglines also has “Clippings”, these are basically folders where you can save items…you can also write a new post and instead of publishing it in your blog, you can save it in a clippings folder, basically a saving notes feature. Unlike Newsgator these Bloglines clippings folders don’t have RSS feeds, but the Bloglines clip blog does have an RSS feed.
Google Reader has another clip blog for Starred Items, this also has a feed.
Both these clip blogs don’t seem to promote their feed, I’d also like to see comments as well.
NOTE: you can email your friends your clip blogs URL, and also get a widget for your blog.
So, Google Reader has a starred section that can be shared as a clip blog (with a feed), and it has a shared section, which can also be shared as a clip blog (with a feed)…but you can’t add your own text to these clips, or even post your own notes.
It doesn’t stop there…
Every tag/folder you organise your feeds in can have a public page (and an RSS feed)…eg. posts from feeds in my “folksonomy” tag/folder are by default tagged folksonomy, but I can also add as many other tags as I like to any of these posts, and these tags can have their own public page as well.
That is, my feed folders can have their own clip blog, and I can also tag posts, and these tags can have their own clip blog.
The only confusing thing is that in your settings, tags for feeds and tags for items are in the same list…I wish I could have a separate list for tagged items.
Tagging items is not quite bookmarking as you don’t have a tag cloud, and to view items for each tag launches its own page, a bit daunting…I can’t view bookmarked posts for a tag within Google Reader, instead it launches to the clip blog page.
So again, I can share, that is, I have a public blog and feed for:
- shared items
- starred items
- feed tags
- item tags
I wonder if non-RSS users could get email notifications for new items in these clip blogs.
I guess in the future we will be able to add our own text to these clip blogs, and perhaps fancy up the template and add our own email notification box and feed (via a service like Feedburner) and add archives, comments, etc…
I guess this clip blog stuff is cutting into the del.icio.us space in some way.
As I mentioned with the Bloglines clip blog you can add your own text to a clip, or not clip at all and just make your own post. Another scenario would be if you want to clip something that is not from Google Reader, you may have just come across it surfing the web.
Well reBlog is similar to the clipping feature in Google Reader, where you can clip items, but it also has a bookmarklet where you can clip items that aren’t in your RSS Reader.
Similarly, MySyndicaat (a public RSS Reader) allows you to clip items from your river of news public news stream to a digest (clip stream). But you can only clip from the public river of news page, if you were to subscribe to the feed from the public river of news page, it doesn’t allow you the option to clip to the digest from your personal RSS Reader.
All this clipping, it might as well throw in a public version of your Google Reader, and a feed, just like the Bloglines public version.
Tag items with a friends name, and your friend can subscribe to the feed of that clip blog.
Tag items you want to read on the train, instead of tagging you may just “star” these items, then at the end of the day you can print your “Starred clip blog”.
This gets hard since there isn’t a date archive, I want to make sure I don’t print stuff I read yesterday…if I had a permalink for the days date, I would click the current date, and print that page.
But what about stuff I want to read on the train that didn’t come from Google Reader, this is why I want a bookmarklet to clip webpages in general, just highlight text and click the bookmarklet.
And what about web-based PDF’s or word documents, how do you clip these (maybe get them into HTML format first by using Gmail, then clipping it with the bookmarklet, but there has to be an easy way).
And what about non-web PDF’s or word documents, this is when it gets tricky, until someone makes this tool I’m after (or the desktop is no more and office 2.0 takes over).
OK, what I need is a Google Reader clip blog, a private blog I bookmark full-text to, and another private blog that contains a spliced feed of the first two.
The Google Reader clip blog will take care of stuff that comes from my RSS Reader.
The private bookmark blog takes care of stuff I come across from my web browsing (the reason that it is private is that I will be highlighting chunks of text and clicking a “blog this” bookmarklet, don’t want to get busted for re-publishing someone elses work…I’m doing this for my personal use, I could use the new Beta Blogger to make a private blog).
For web-based PDF’s and word documents I will have to use Gmail to convert to HTML before clicking “blog this”.
For non-web PDF’s or word documents, I will convert to offline HTML and cut ‘n paste into a blog post.
So both the feeds from the Google Reader clip blog and the private blog are spliced using a service like Feed Digest and re-syndicated into another private blog.
At the end of the day I click on the days date of this 2nd private blog and click print, or even use HTML2PDF.
Or instead of re-syndicating the spliced feed into a 2nd private blog, I could enter this feed into RSS2PDF and print out the days takings, or subscribe to the feed in Feedshow and print out the days takings.
This is re-visiting an earlier post called RSSify your Daily Catch…any takers on making this a more automated experience…basically I want a dailycatch portfolio, a table of contents might be going to far.