Thursday, June 30, 2011

Why I hate Google Reader.

1285 subscriptions. That is the amount of websites I am subscribed to in Google Reader.

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.

Hmm...interesting. It would make the process longer, but you would actually be visiting the blog itself and seeing the beautiful designs that people have put so much work into. You would also (probably) see their profile picture in the sidebar, which puts a face to a name, and you would create an impression on their page that helps them support their blog if they run ads.

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.

Another perk is that if a website doesn't offer full feeds (ahem), you don't have to worry about it. Heck, you probably won't even know about it, since you are visiting the actual site.

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:

13 comments:

  1. Sounds brilliant, and I've just added my "next" button. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. @ Nickeletta - You are welcome. Enjoy! :D

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  3. After a full day of using the next button...I agree that this way of reading subscriptions is much more fun. Getting to see each website does feel more interactive than just a reader pane.

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  4. Great post and very helpful info! Thanks!

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  5. I use Google Reader as a gateway - I read a first passage in Google Reader and open the article in a new background tab if I'm interested in reading more. That way I can scan through posts I don't want to read (for example I follow a lot of F1 sites and they all publish the same press releases so when I have read it once I simply skip the duplicated items on other sites.

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  6. Thanks so much for this info, Ali. I now have my "Next" button and a "Subscribe" button, too. I haven't kept up with Reader as much as I should. I just love how you find all this great stuff to share with the rest of us.

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  7. I feel like you're about to "unfriend" people on facebook. So I'd like to make a last ditch plea before I start sweating and wondering if I'm on that delete list!

    "please like me. I promise to make food you enjoy and food that looks interesting (unlike some boring chicken I saw on someones blog). I will always be nice (except when I'm not) and I will end every comment with "yum."

    Now, I wait to see if I make the next wave....
    Sweatily (hehe)
    Aimee

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  8. I was just talking to a friend last night about the crazy amount of blogs I was subscribed to and how I was trying to cut down on them so I can live a real life instead of reading blogs in my free time. But I have nowhere near 1280! AAAAAAAAAAA! That is insane. I don't use a reader b/c I just NEVER remember to check it. I subscribe by email and that's the only way I remember to check the blogs I like. I'm glad you have the email subscribe option! I never miss anything.

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  9. Hmmm... this is an interesting idea. I love reading blogs (though I'm not subscribed to 1000+!) but, conversely, I feel like I spend wayyyy too much time on my computer. So I try to get through my Reader list as quickly as possible and similar to Gabal, I click through to read what I'm interested on the blog from Reader. But I definitely I lose some of the blog experience by reading most things in Reader instead of on the blog itself... hmmmm... I'm tempted to try out the next button.

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  10. I installed the next button after seeing your post, and I love it! For me, it's just as fast as going through my list in Reader, and the experience of reading on the blogs themselves is much nicer. Also, the notifiction of reaching the end of the internet when you're through your list is priceless. Thanks for highlighting this feature :)

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  11. I am going to try this - thanks!

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  12. I'm really happy to read that a few people have tried this out and liked it :)

    I know there are a lot of people who would refuse to give it a try but you really have nothing to lose by just giving it a shot. You might love it, you never know ;)

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  13. I never knew about this. I'm going to have to give it a try. Thanks for the heads-up. Hopefully it will streamline my reading - hey, any streamlining around here is always welcome!

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