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3 Reasons why the new Google Feed Reader is a Marvellous tool for Knowledge Workers

I don't know if it's just me but I guess 80% of the posts that come through my feed reader I'm not really interested in, and yet I have to read through them in order not to catch the other 20% that are relevant.  So I've ended up with lots of feeds (150+) in Bloglines that I struggle to keep up with and yet I'm so reluctant to drop any of them.  I always seem to be playing catch-up.

This weekend I moved from Bloglines to the new Google Feed Reader and I am just amazed at how much more productive I've become.  This is all down a few subtle changes that Google have introduced in their latest release which I'll tell you about.  But it hasn't just given me a given a big leg-up in productivity... the new version of Google reader also allows you to organise posts in meaningful ways and then share them with others.

Here's a roundup of the advantages that I've found so far:

  1. Productivity:
    Firstly I've got to say that the ability to switch with one-click between viewing your feeds by either 'river of news' list style format or reading in 'full article' style is wonderful. You can skim super-fast or slow down and browse, just as the mood takes you. So useful... and such a brilliantly simple idea.

    Anyway, here's my new 'super productive' (got to be 10X faster) reading technique:

    By initially scanning new posts in list view (title + list line of the article) and clicking the star on the left of each item if it seems of interest, allows me to zap through 100's of posts in a few minutes and weed out most of the dross.  I can then clicking 'starred items' and browse in expanded view only those items that I just pre-selected.  Google reader cleverly keeps any unread items that I haven't scrolled down to as 'unread'.  This allows you to stop reading part way through a list of unread posts and resume where you left off next time you return.
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  2. Meaningful Organisation:
    When you find a post that's interesting you can immediately 'do something' with it.  Similar to Del.icio.us, Google reader allows you to add multiple tags to posts for later retrieval. By assigning 'action' type tags (post, forward, read_later, implement) and category type tags (tech, design, business etc) I can organise and process stuff there and then.... big plus!

    One of the few problems I had with Bloglines is that when I add a new feed I often like to go exploring way back into the old stuff; but when I selected display 'all items' Bloglines would only take me back a few months.  Luckily, Google reader seems to be able to access an infinite history of old posts.
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  3. Collaboration:
    Tucked away in Google reader is this little piece of functionality that I think can make this a killer application for knowledge workers, - any folder or tag can be republished  and in any of three ways -
    (i)....by either adding an HTML clip to your website or blog so tagged items are auto-published to your a sidebar/page on your site
    (ii)...via an RSS feed specific to that folder/tag that recipients can subscribe to.
    (iii)..you can e-mail a 'public URL' to that folder/tags contents.

    This makes it a brilliant tool for quickly collating and sharing relevant information to multiple colleagues, work groups and teams.  Again, very simple yet very powerful.

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[click to open larger version]
Google_feed_reader_1

P.S. Switching is a 2 minute job.  Just scroll down to 'Export Subscriptions' at the bottom of the left hand frame in Bloglines and save the OPML file.  Go to Google reader, click on 'settings', click the 'Import/Export' tab and upload the saved file.  That's it.
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