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Cryptic title huh. I’ll get straight down to explaining. In the last month, I’ve radically changed the way that I use the internet. Once upon a time, when I was young and girls were pretty and you could breath HK air without coughing and…., okay back on track….focus focus. Take Two. Go.  

When I woke up in the mornings, I’d methodically click through a list of links to all my favorite sites and check if they had updated. I used to have my own custom homepage saved locally that was just a table full of links, to make it easy and ensure I didn’t forget one of my regular stops. Now all of that is over. The smart people at Google have made it unnecessary.

I’ve gotten into the habit of using Google Reader. Google Reader works by taking RSS feeds and…..Oh yeah RSS feeds, the cryptic title, explanations. Right, on that boss. I’ll try and keep it simple, but it is a bit technical. And if you don’t care you can skip the explanation. Though the rest of this post won’t make as much sense if you do. Although given what Zaineb says, I doubt I make sense to anyone half the time anyhow so being overly technical would just be marinating an open wound in salt and vinegar (crisps? I haven’t had S&V crisps in forever… I should retitle this blog Soliloquy From a Raving Loon. But I digress. Google Reader is nifty enough and cheap  (read free) that you might want to use it yourself.

An RSS feed is a way of making content on the net syndicatable. Put simply, they take the content from a website, and strip away all the appearance related things and make fundamental information like the title, the text, the site its from and the authors name available to any RSS Reader. (Easy RSS Explanation) (Even Easier Video Explanation of RSS)

An RSS Reader, such as Google Reader,  is software that collects together all the disparate feeds that you are interested in, and then displays them in a standardized format. That means you can take every website that you visit (provided it makes an RSS feed available, and most do now) and then save it in Google Reader. Then all you have to do is visit Google Reader’s site, and then it visits all the sites (or their RSS Feeds, which are the same thing) for you and grabs any updated content for you.

For me this has had two huge advantages. Firstly I don’t have to look to see if any content is new. Google Reader will only show me content that I haven’t seen before. You can configure it to just distinguish content you have seen from content you haven’t seen, but I find that is not as efficient nor is Google’s way of distinguishing them through light and dark blue clear cut.

Secondly, and I’ve given it away by talking about efficiency, is that it makes things so much faster. As I recently said, I’m reading a lot more stuff (current count 46 sites and increasing) recently, and  I’m adding more new sites each week. There’s no way that I could keep up with that kind of volume of information without pulling it all together in an understandable and manageable format.

Thirdly, Google Reader uses keyboard commands to work through the feeds, meaning that if you spend the few minutes it takes to learn the basic ones, you can slice through a huge amount of material, and you can single out wait you’re going to read, what doesn’t interest you and what you’ll take time to come back to later because it may be interesting.

The base line really is that RSS can revolutionize the way we deal with the internet. It makes everything infinitely more accessible, and so much easier to do. You can spend so much more time on what matters: the content. And if you do try out Google Reader, the feed for this blog can be found at:


One Comment

  1. Hehe welcome to the RSS club. I have been using it for at least a year now, and have since ditched the so-called RSS readers — they make me waste far too much time. I have considered Google Reader but can’t be bothered logging on each time (no, I will never let it remember me). So I just save some feeds on my Firefox bookmark toolbar, and the rest in ProtoPage. And yes your blog feed has featured on the toolbar for some time now.

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