Web-based ReaderIn yesterday’s post we chatted about digital book reading. Today we switch focus to blogs and the news online and how to efficiently track and consume our favorite sites!

We’re bombarded with online news and information. And for the first time in history more people get news online than from newspapers.

Technorati, which has been tracking the explosive growth of blogs since 2004, lists over a million blogs in their directory alone. And the ABA Journal Blawg Directory lists legal blogs in over 100 categories!

Let’s face it, the shift from buying and reading traditional newspapers and magazines to browsing the web for news makes sense. The internet is the place to find any and everything you could ever hope to know! Not to mention that nowadays, all major newspapers and magazines have an online version that we can access anytime, anywhere!

If you’re arriving late to the online news party OR still transitioning from reading news in print to reading it online, the time has come for you to make a decision on just HOW you will process all that useful (and useless) information without loosing yourself in the search.

That’s where the beauty of the rss feed reader comes in! If you don’t know what we are talking about when we say rss feed reader, this video from Commoncraft explains the concept in plain english.

Now that we know what an RSS feed reader is, let’s get started using the free Google Reader.

(Note: if you don’t already have a Gmail account, you’ll need to set one up in order to use Google Reader. It’s free and takes about 2 minutes.)

add subscription google reader

When you sign into Gmail you will find the “Reader” listed in the top menu. Once in Reader, you will want to add subscriptions. Here you can type in the names of your favorite blogs, or other search terms, and start subscribing to feeds!

Nearly every blog or news site gives you the option to subscribe to their RSS feed. Just look for the RSS feed icon, click on it, and you will be given the option to ADD that feed to the web-based reader of your choice OR you will have to copy and paste the feed’s URL into your Reader’s “Add Subscription” box.

RSS Feed Reader Icon
Click on Me and Subscribe to RSS feeds!

When you subscribe to a particular rss feed all the new content that is published to that feed’s site will automatically show up in your reader! So instead of navigating back and forth between different browser windows and tabs, looking at each site individually to see if there is anything worth seeing–ALL of the newest posts from the sites you know and trust end up in your reader–in other words: the information you want comes to you, and not vice versa!

To further organize your subscriptions, you will want to create folders and filters in your Google Reader. For example, let’s say you’re a hip attorney who’s just subscribed to our blog, Legal Productivity. Depending on your interests, you may create a folder entitled: “Legal Tech News” or “Legal Blogs” and group all other related subscriptions in that folder for quick and easy access! Now you may choose to dictat in what order those subscriptions appear in your reading list, setting high-priority news to appear first and less important feeds to filter to the bottom of your list.

Setting yourself up with subscription folders and filters that make sense for you is key to making your reading time as easy, pleasurable and productive as possible!

In Google Reader you have options to streamline your reading process: there is “list view” for quick scanning of new headlines; “expanded view,” which displays the full-version of the item; or there is the option to display “new items only,” thus avoiding rereading any old content.

Once your Reader is customized to your likings you can sit back, relax, and just read.

While I’m more than happy with my Google Reader,  there are many other web-based readers out there for both Mac and PC users! We encourage you to test out any or all of your options and let us know which one works best for you!

Happy RSS Reading!