Note to Readers: Experimentation Ahead

Posted: March 4th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Ephemera, Technology | Tags: | No Comments »

If you’re here on the blog page, you’ll notice right away some tweaks in the layout. I am experimenting with my Google Reader again. I’ve been reading all my blogs through Google for a little over a year now, but I haven’t really taken advantage of the sharing feature until now. There are some good reasons for this:

1. As a blogger with a Google-hosted blog, I can see the same updates from my blogger homepage, the site I log-in to when I want to write posts, read comments or monitor traffic.

Reading my feeds here is not only more efficient than going through reader directly, I find the Blogger Dashboard more user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing as an interface.
2. I actually don’t want to send all the stories I enjoy to all my friends–I tend to send occasional group emails to categories of people or individuals. I email a funny story about New York to friends I know in the city. I send a geeky economics item to fellow bizjournos. I send a mention of Brown to friends from college. I send an essay about moms to my mom. Etc. So the premise of Google Reader–reading as exhibitionism–doesn’t really match my habits of reading as relationship-deepening.
3. Many of the items I want to share with these friends aren’t in my RSS feeds because there are some publications I prefer to read in print than online. I read the NYTimes in print, or at least the front section, but with the exception of a few blogs I subscribe to directly (Krugman, Bruni), I don’t want every minute’s update from the site. Same for BusinessWeek, Fortune, the WSJ, the New Yorker, and the Atlantic Monthly. Google Reader doesn’t allow me to add individual URLs, from things I’ve already read in print and searched for online afterwards, to my shared items if the source isn’t in my feed subscription.
BUT since I occasionally do blog posts that are just digests of things I’ve read, and since I want to do more original reporting and informed opinion, I have opted for Google Reader just to outsource the aggregation component of blogging. Note to any friends who are checking my Reader-shared stories on a regular basis: the stories I’m sharing aren’t ALL my favorites from the web, but JUST the ones I want to feed to the digest box because I think they have some links to the “Revolution in Culture” I’m blogging about. The personalized emails will not stop.
This still doesn’t solve problem 3–wanting to add stuff to the digest that isn’t in my RSS feed. For now, I’ll have to include those in actual posts: today, I encourage you to read David Brooks on Hamiltonianism (I TOLD you so) and Tom Friedman on the bank bailouts.
If I find a new way to update that solves this issue, and is more pleasing to use than the Reader, I may tweak the site again, so any suggestions as to what you like are welcome.

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