With information coming at you from all directions how do you keep up with the news that is interesting to you? Do you use RSS feeds, social networks, Google Alerts, or do you visit a bunch of sites by hand. There are so many ways it’s almost over whelming and if you don’t do it right it can be just that.
I recently asked this question on Google+ to see if people were doing it different from me. I mean to say..if RSS is dead (not true) like some have said I wanted to know what everyone else was doing then. Of course it looks like most everyone is much like me, I use RSS feeds for sites that I want to make sure I read regularly, Social Networks for more immediate, timely, or “Breaking News” information that can come and go, and some Google Alerts for things like searches of my day job company and of course myself.
I am going to assume that you know what RSS, Google Reader, etc. is. No need to reinvent the wheel here.
My primary use for Google Reader is to share out stories that I think are interesting enough to use in my Podcast Technorama. Chuck Tomasi (my co-host) will look at the things I have shared (see here) and will look at things he has shared (see here) also and grab items to put together our shownotes. I have a list of about 159 sites that I currently read (its been as high as 200+). Some I read infrequently and others I take notice when they post things. I found most of these sites by seeing what others were reading, and just finding them on my own. Google Reader can help you with both.
Google Reader has a section at the top left with information about your stuff. One of the options is Browse for Stuff, this is where the rubber meets the road and you will get ton of feeds to read. Here you will find bundles to get you started such as News, Sports, Staff Picks as well as bundles from your friends if you are also following people with Reader. Above the bundles, you can search for feeds and look at recommendations. Recommnedations are “new feeds are generated by comparing your interests with the feeds of users similar to you.” (quote from Google). There should be plenty here to get you going.
Also note the People you follow section. Once you start sharing items and you have a share items page (see my link above) others with Google Reader accounts can follow you. This gives Reader a little bit of a social network feel. If you start following people you will see when they share and like items in the articles themselves. This section, once you follow some, will also let you only see items that others have shared so if you follow people that are similar to you there is a good chance you will see topics that you are interested in. You can also filter out and see items that they commented on and not just reshared!
As you end up with a lot of articles popping up in your reader, you will find that you just don’t have enough time to read them all, and that is ok (remember to breathe!). I regularly Mark All as Read when there are a ton if items especially after I have been on vacation or not been on reader for a few days. Remember, if something is important and happening and you miss it the first time around, it will come around again. So don’t try and kill yourself thinking “What did I miss!”