Thursday, June 14, 2007

In Praise of Google Reader

So I was chatting with Seth the other day and talking about RSS options - specifically ones that might work in Gmail. He reminded me that Google rolled out its Reader, so I figured I'd give it a try. Like Gmail, it's a web-based app. I'm a big fan of web-based tools since I started using Hotmail back in 1997 (before it was MSN Hotmail!) because it's one less piece of software clogging my registry and dragging my computer's speed down, and when you've got a half-dozen browser windows open at any given time it's easier to just have another browser open.

I like Gmail about 90% - my complaints are largely with its UI and the lack of ability to file email into folders - but Google Reader I like damn near 100%. It's easy to add RSS feeds, the reader behaves logically: your feeds are listed in alphabetical order, feeds with updates have numbers after then, you click on a feed and bring up the new posts, and most importantly it doesn't truncate posts and maintains the original formatting of pictures - something that many stand-alone apps don't.

One of my biggest complaints about many of the slick new web tools is that you often have to install a separate program or widget for each one. Instant messaging is a prime example - I don't want to have Skype, AIM, and MSN running all at once, and Trillian hasn't updated properly in years and its lack of modern functionality (especially MSN functionality) continues to be a growing problem. I want my functionality focused in one place, and having Gmail open in one tab and Reader open in another accomplishes that. They even share a menu structure, so I could theoretically just swap between them without even clicking away from either site, but I prefer having them both open at once so I don't miss anything.

It's also got some fun tools like "Trends," which tracks how many posts you read on each blog each day (compared with how many you just "mark as read" or skip), so if you're curious about your reading habits, Reader will helpfully track them for you.

Best of all: it's all integrated into my Google account, so I can take it anywhere I'm online. No piece of installed software can do that.

By the way, if your blog isn't listed in the RSS feeds, it's probably because you don't have an RSS feed set up!

1 comment:

Brandon said...

Agreed, 100%. I've been hooked on Google Reader for some time now and see it way above the competition.