Many of you probably don’t use Google Reader or know what RSS is, but I’m here to help.
Google Reader downloads updates made to a website and downloads new articles, as they are published, and gathers them in one spot for you to read.
A Technical Explanation
Most websites utilize something called RSS – Really Simple Syndication. RSS acts as a feed and is instantly updated with new content once it is updated (or published) to a website. This “feed” can be input into various websites or software that automatically downloads articles as they are published.
How to Use Google Reader:
1. Sign up for a Google account – it’s free!
Be sure to get a professional sounding e-mail address. [If you have Gmall, you have a Google account and can access Google Reader by going to http://reader.google.com and signing in with your Gmail credentials.
Signing into Google
2. Find The Sites You Like
Have a second Internet browser window (or tab) open and go to your favorite website that’s not Perez Hilton or Drudge Report (they don’t use RSS, but several websites they link to do utilize it). Look for a symbol on the browser bar that looks like this:
If the website you visit uses RSS, a symbol will appear on the address bar of your browser:
EDIT: PLEASE UPDATE YOUR BOOKMARKS TO socialworktech.com ! 🙂
If you see any derivative of the RSS symbol, this means that you can subscribe to this blog via Google Reader.
3. Copy the ULR.
On the website you are on, if you see the RSS symbol, simply copy the URL From the toolbar
4. Go to Google Reader:
On the left-hand side near the top, you will see “Add a Subscription”
Click it and you should see this window pop up:
Simply paste your URL into the box and click “add” to subscribe.
Voila! Done! You have subscribed to your first of many thrilling blogs, websites, podcasts, etc
BUT WAIT! There’s more!
Now that you are subscribed, you will see the last ten articles published from the feed. Each website is a subscription. You can click them one article at a time within each subscription to read its content.
Every time you click on a story, it will be marked as “read” and will not be highlighted the next time you refresh the webpage. You can mark a story as “unread” (to keep it highlighted as new) by checking “keep unread” at the bottom of a post:
When you are done with a feed (i.e. not seeing anything you want to read), you can click “Mark All As Read” to clear your feed. Within “Feed Settings”, you can rename the subscription (e.g. from “Social Work Tech Blog” to “SWTB”), you can file it into a special folder (e.g. “Tech Blog”), and you can unsubscribe (although you are not from this blog ).
Benefits of Having a Google Reader:
1. Be In The Know: Subscribe
With subscribing to the RSS of a website, you will always be on top of the latest news from your favorite blogs, websites, etc. as they publish. I subscribe to several social workers who blog about their experiences and I like to see that they have updated their blogs. I also subscribe to podcasts via RSS, whose audio can be played via Google’s Reader interface. [For those keeping score at home, I really enjoy Jonathan B. Singer’s Social Work Podcast].
2. All In One Place
Rather than having to go to ten separate websites to see if anything new has been posted, I only go to one. If there has been any update made, Google Reader will tell me as evidenced by the highlighted and bold text on the article.
3. Never Miss a Beat
As a website is updated with new content, this will update directly to the RSS feed as soon as the article is published.
4. Niches, Folders, etc.
If you dig around Google Reader, you can figure out how to create Folders for your content. For the various websites I subscribe to, I have the following folders (and a description of content that follows):
- News and Politics: I reduced this to only two websites: Yahoo News! and Politico.com
- Music: band sites, fan sites, etc…. It feeds me the latest tour news for bands I’m into so I can be sure not to miss them when they come by.
- Peoples’ Blogs: My pals who maintain their own blogs, as well as interesting strangers who post about their lives at various websites (e.g. tumblr, blogspot, wordpress, etc.)
- Social Work Related: Websites related to practice, practitioners, issues (e.g. CBT, PTSD, etc).
- Tech: Popular websites that I enjoy to follow about Apple, iPad, general tech news, and social media.
If anyone wants a full list of URLs, please post a comment. I may post this later as a separate blog.
5. Access to Content
If you have an iDevice, the Reeder App for iPad and iPhone can access your Google Reader and sync. There are many applications out in the wild that can access your Google Reader credentials and can download and sync your unread items so that they’re easily accessible.
6. Keep updated with SWTB
Rather than having to come back every so often to see if I have updated, Google Reader will tell you. Especially now that school is starting again, updating will be seldom, but with the high quality you, dear reader, deserve.
Great article. If you’re on the iPhone and/or iPad then I highly suggest the Reeder App. I bought and tried a bunch of apps on the phone before landing on this one. Go for it.
Also worth noting are some of the goodies features available under the preferences tab. One of them is a bookmarklet that installs on any browser’s toolbar for a quick subscription to a site.
AsocialWork [Forgot your name, bro],
Thank you for the comment 🙂
That snippet you speak of is more of a “Google Reader 201” post in the future. Thank you for the suggestion!
This was a very helpful post. You spelled out quite clearly all the steps. I needed this type of walk-through.
I thought that I had understood the concept and had supposedly subscribed but all that happened was that I cluttered my gmail account! Now, I’ll know better 🙂
THANK YOU! I have been using greader for the past year, and it has literally changed my life.
I’d like to add a #6 to your benefits list. Not ever having to spam your friends ever again! Sharing articles allows me to interact with my friends over the course of the day, rather than sending them something every time I come across an interesting article. It also brings social networking to a whole new level.