Are You Using Google Reader Yet?

Today I wanted to talk a bit about the power of Google Reader and it’s sharing and social networking capabilities.  If you’ve never used Google Reader you are missing out on the of the most powerful tools you can use while online.  You can read about it on the Wikipedia page, which I highly recommend doing, especially after I show you what can be done with it.

Here at TPS-Colorado, we have a Google account which gives us access to our own Google Reader.  After subscribing to a few website feeds we can then scroll through hundreds and even thousands of articles all related to a certain theme or topic.

A screenshot of our Google Reader page is below, with the folder “Education” clicked on, that shows us all of the articles available to us within.

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You can see under the Education folder that there are a variety of sub-headlines.  Each one of these subheadings are individual content feeds from around the web.  Some of them include: The New York Times Education feed, U.S. Department of Education, NPR Topics: Education, and Washington Post Education.  Each one of these are called RSS feeds and can be found directly on their respective related websites.

Now here’s the great part about Google Reader or any RSS reader.  In this example I will focus on the “NPR Topics: Education” feed.  So I click on its name in the left hand column and it displays all the articles within that feed in the main panel.  Screenshot below:

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Now each one of these headlines are “clickable” articles with actual content.  I’ll go ahead and open up the article “College Graduates Struggle To Repay Loans”.  We then get this screenshot of the article open and displaying a brief summary of the article, “The abysmal job market is making it hard for some to start making student loan payments, which come due this month for May graduates. A new law could ease the pain for some: It limits monthly payments to 15 percent of a graduate’s income.”:

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You can see this is just a summary of the article but where is the full content of the article?  All you have to do is click on the bolded main heading above the summary (“College Graduates Struggle To Repay Loans”) and it will take you to the actual article found on NPR’s website.  Here is what that looks like:

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You can then scroll through the entire article.  But this is just the beginning of what Google Reader can do.  In the next screenshot I’ve highlighted what makes Google Reader so powerful:

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These options are the social networking features of Google Reader.  First there is the “Add Star” button.  This is the same as bookmarking or adding it your favorites.  Google Reader actually creates a page called “Starred Items” which conglomerates all your starred items into one page for future usage, which is very, very handy.

Next are the “Like”, “Share”, and “Share With Note” options.  These allow you to share items with people who are subscribed to your Google Reader feed.  I will talk about that in another post because it’s a bit more advanced.  Clicking on the “Share” button also updates the HTML website that Google Reader creates for you to share your content across the entire web.  Here is TPS-Colorado’s Google Reader webpage that is updated every time we find an article that we choose to “Share”.

http://www.google.com/reader/shared/tpscolorado

We can then use this URL to share our feed within our blog or on any other website who may want it.  It’s truly an exciting feature.

Next up is “Email”.  Clicking on this opens up a little info box were you enter in the person’s email address you want to send the article to and click send.  Basic, convenient and very powerful.

Another powerful option is the “Send To” feature.  When enabled, this allows you to send the current article to a variety of social networking accounts you may have.  You can have Facebook enabled and click the Send To button, then click on Facebook and it will add it to your Facebook account for your friends and colleagues to read.  I will share how to do that in another blog post as well because it’s in the settings page.

Hopefully you got a rough estimate of what Google Reader can do.  I hope to do a videocast of Google Reader in the future as I can tell it’d be a lot easier to go through the step rather than typing it all out.

If you’re a Google Reader, share with us the ways in which you use it as well.

You can also become a fan of the TPS-Colorado Blog on Facebook.

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