Thursday 16 August 2007

Wasting time more efficiently

Using Google Reader, I follow feeds from 45 art and tech blogs and websites - my Trends pages helpfully tells me that in the past 30 days I got through 1,387 items. So this morning I was really happy to see that one of these items was a Web Worker Daily post on using Google Reader even more quickly, including some helpful tips on keyboard shortcuts.

But hold up. Was what I just wrote all Greek to you?

If you read the Best of 3 blog, you most likely read Over the net as well. Maybe you keep revisiting Peter Peryer's blog to see when he'll post again. Maybe you follow Tyler Green, or have found One moment caller, or are one of Ed Winkleman's fans.

If you're visiting more than 3 blogs a day, you could save yourself bundles of time by setting up a feedreader. The simplest way to explain this: a personalised feedreader will receive RSS feeds from websites that you select and then arrange them for you to read; just like emails in your inbox. Everytime a new item appears on the site you've selected, it will be replicated in your feedreader.

How to set up a feedreader

There's a bunch of feedreaders out there, but I'm a Google Reader fan. It's free, it's web based (meaning you can log on to the net and access it from any computer), and it's easy to use. Here's how:

1. Get a Gmail account / address, if you don't have one already, by going here:

2. Go to Google Reader, sign in using your Gmail address and password, and then your reader will automatically set itself up for you

3. Set up the feeds you're interested in. The orange and white symbol at the top of this post signals that a RSS feed/s is available on a website. Sign up for the feed by:

3a. When you're on a website, look for the symbol (either in the address bar of your browser, or on the page somewhere) and click it.

3b. Clicking the symbol will either (a) take you into Google Reader automatically or (b) bring up a page which looks like total gibberish. If you get the page of gibberish, don't freak out - just copy the page url in the address bar of your browser, go to Google Reader, click 'add a subscription' in the left-hand column of navigation, and paste the url in the pop up box.

4. Once you've got your feeds established, you can arrange them in folders, tag them, and trash feeds you're no longer interested in. Trust me - this is low barrier technology with big pay offs.

For a gentle introduction to RSS and feedreaders, check out this short video by CommonCraft's Lee LeFever.

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