This means that even if a fraction of them update on a daily basis, I can never really catch up without devoting a lot of time to speed clicking my way through them. I realized one day as I was doing my daily catch up that all this speed clicking was mindless, boring and not fulfilling. I had no real sense of who was writing these posts.
I came across a post by the lovely Whoorl a while back, ironically while I was reading her blog in Google Reader. She mentioned that she loved using 'the next button'. I was confused because the only next button I had ever heard of was the button you click in Google Reader to zip to the next unread post. This was not the same button. THIS button was a button you put in your internet toolbar, and when you clicked it, it would actually take you to the website of the next unread post of your google reader subscriptions.
I decided to give it a try, to see if connecting with blogs and their authors was easier if I visited the actual website, even if the drawback was that it took more time.
At first I was a little annoyed at how long it took to get from one site to another, but I told myself I want to give this a chance and I told myself to stop being in such a hurry. I got into a groove, and I started exploring websites that I hadn't visited in ages. Sites that I didn't even realize I was subscribed to, because I had always just rushed through my reader and never visited the site.
The experience of actually visiting the websites, which are these authors homes, really floored me. At once I could feel the warmth of their designs, their smiling pictures in the sidebar, and I started to feel connected again to the people writing these posts. I actually felt happy to be visiting them, a far cry from how I felt every time I pulled up Google Reader and saw the giant number of unread blogs at the top, and would proceed to speed click my way through all of them.
I am in love with the next button. I do not see myself ever going back to reading blogs in a reader. It is too cold, void of any personality, and it disconnects me from my blogging friends.
Why I love Google Reader
Google Reader is not all bad, let me just get that out there. It is a great way to organize websites that you subscribe to. The ability to search through previously read posts makes it a giganto recipe index that you can search through when you are in the need for a specific recipe. Have a bunch of strawberries and don't know what to do with em? Pop over to Google Reader and search.
The Perfect Balance
Using both Google Reader for the search function and the next button for blog browsing has totally changed the way I as a blog reader connect with websites. It is the perfect balance between organization, search functions and interacting and connecting with the blog author and other visitors.
Should I also mention that it makes it easier to pin something on Pinterest? Since you are already on the page it is once less step in the process.
I use to pride myself in being able to zip through my giant list of subscriptions at super speeds, but no longer. I am in the process of removing a whole bunch of subscriptions to blogs that no longer resonate with me or that no longer post. There will always be thousands of blogs out there - you can never really catch them all. I would rather be subscribed to a reasonable amount, the blogs where my friends and my blog readers write at, or sites that are truly beautiful and inspiring.
So, what do you think? Are you willing to give the next button a try?
I hope you do. It feels really good to see the faces behind the names. It feels good to be awed and inspired by all of the beautiful blog designs out there. It helps me be a better blogger and to improve my own website. I have come to love-to-hate Google Reader.
You might also like to read this post on the subject:
- If you read blogs, you should read this at Rage Against the Minivan