One of the important lessons I am learning about blogging is that get readers to your blog you have to read and comment on other blogs. I have mentioned in previous posts a few tools I started using over Christmas to start interacting with other bloggers and the net result of using these tools is that I now subscribe to about 50 Blogs. That is a lot of information to sort in order to find the nuggets I need.
If you are subscribing to a few blogs then simply using the live links feature in FireFox or IE7 should serve you well – but if you plan to be come a serious blogger you are going to find you need a much better solution. Until now I have relied on Sage, an in browser add on to FireFox which has done the job well, but since the increase in blogs over Christmas it has become a bit of a pain.
I have been looking at on-line readers as an alternative and have played with Bloglines on an off for a couple of years but never really gelled with it and I had stumbled upon Google Reader sometime last year but having played with it for a while decided it was not for me. Oh I set up an account and subscribed to all my blogs on both to help my search engine presence, but as a usable tools neither were anywhere near as useful as Sage.
Then today I came across Robert Scoble’s blog where there was a discussion about Google Reader recommending it to manage 29,000 posts in 30 days. Well that got my attention. Clearly I was not alone in my early view of Goole Reader because it has been significantly upgraded and I am very impressed – infact I am now in the process of switching over immediately. As seems to be typical with Google however they have not made a song and dance about the changes – in fact I keep discovering new products or upgraded products that were launched without any comment.
There are actually a few reasons for the switch and the most important was the need to change from a reader that is PC based to one that is web based. I use one PC most of the time – but increasingly I am finding my self using my laptop or working on a PC in another office. As some new plans for 2007 move into place it is inevitable that I will increasingly be needing to access by blog subscriptions from a variety of PCs.
The second reason is the shear volume of information I now need to manage with increasingly number of subscriptions which Sage is not good at because it essentially deals with each blog separately as does Bloglines. Google Reader allows me to manage blogs much more intuitively by tags and by folders (I can put a blog into more than one folder) and by setting the reader to display only unread blogs I am not cluttered with the ones I have read.
The third reason is a really neat tool in Google reader – Sharing. I can highlight specific posts in two ways – First I can star them so that they are easy to find again, but I can also share them. Sharing the post places it into a personal RSS feed on Google reader that I can then syndicate to my blogs, web sites or anywhere else that I want to promote my shared posts (which can include some of my own posts of course).
One further advantage to Google reader is that everything in the Google stable seems to be being linked up where it can be and I am using more and more Google tools. I have just started using Google Calender which is really great – can’t get access to Google Mail yet – but I gather then are some links happening there to Google Reader.