Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Sharing Google Reader feeds by tag and reflections on information flow management

I’m not sure how long this has been available, but I was glad this evening to discover that Google Reader permits users to share subscribed feeds by tag:

Sharing Google Reader Feeds by Tag

To do this, click MANAGE SUBSCRIPTIONS below your list of subscribed feeds in Google Reader and click the TAGS link. Click the checkbox beside the tag you’d like to publicly share, and then choose PUBLIC under the “Change Sharing” popup menu at the top.

Once public sharing is enabled several links are automatically created by Google Reader, including a public page showing all updated posts in feeds to which you are subscribed under that tag, and the option to add a “clip” or blogroll to your website.

The “clip” option lets you select how many items to show, the color, and whether the source feed should be shown. This is my current clip from education blogs to which I am subscribed:

For some time I’ve kept a Google Reader clip of blog posts I’ve chosen to share in the right sidebar of my blog. I am continually adding new blogs to my “education” blog category in Google Reader (Google Reader calls this a “tag”) as I read and process ideas on the web. I have created a new page on my blog, which is accessible from the top drop-down menu under “Resources,” for Education Blogs I read. I’ll be the first to admit there is more here than I ever have time to process, but these are the feeds to which I’m subscribed today. I was curious how many there are, since Google Reader doesn’t show that number readily, so I copied the blog titles and used TextWrangler to count the lines– there are 237 as of tonight. I am not sharing this to brag or or in some way say “wow look at how many feeds I read” — because the truth is, I do NOT read all these feeds every day and stay up on all the content here. Even if I just read non-stop all day, I don’t think I could process all this information. I was interested myself in this number, and continue to wonder how our conversations and idea sharing interactions are going to continue to change in the years ahead as still more educator voices and perspectives are added in the edu-blogosphere.

I reflected a little in my April 14th post “Here for the learning revolution” about how my own process for subscribing and reading feeds in my professional learning network differs from those of others (specifically David Warlick as he discussed in his post “10 Ways to Keep your PLN from Running Amok!”) David may have the good advice here, and I may be following the wrong path when it comes to blog subscriptions and reading. I’m inclined to continue thinking, however, that it is essential to always be open to not only reading and listening to “new voices” one time (like when I visit someone’s blog link after they comment on my blog) but also subscribing to those voices (blog web feeds) so the likelihood of being influenced by the ideas of those individuals in the future is much higher.

As I’ve written previously, I continue to consider information access and processing in our digital information landscape via the analogy of a radar screen. Information is flowing all around us in streams that are too large to be fully digestible and comprehensible, so our challenge is to find and utilize radar screens which permit us to remain up to date, effective, and “digitally enlightened” as we can and want to be. Google Reader is a CRITICAL element of my personal information radar array.

ship radar array

I continue to struggle with email, and am in the midst of a transition from Yahoo mail to GMail. I certainly don’t keep up with all the latest buzz and discussion in the edu-blogosphere, but I do feel pretty satisfied with my use of Google Reader. The option of being able to access my Google Reader subscriptions on my iPhone has definitely been a MAJOR benefit, since it has permitted my iPhone to become my “use anywhere” digital newspaper.

I do not have a current statistic for this, but I’m very confident the number of Oklahoma teachers currently using some type of RSS/feed reader like Google Reader on a regular basis is very small– less than 25 percent is a reasonable guess. The actual number is probably far smaller.

As information flows and the quantity of information available and moving around us continues to grow, I think it will become more and more important to utilize feed readers. I love Oprah’s definition of RSS: “Ready for Some Stories.” Our family continues to take the local Oklahoma City newspaper on Wednesdays and Sundays, but one of the main reasons we did this through the winter was so we’d have newspaper to use when we had fires in our fireplace. Now that spring has officially sprung here in the midwest and our chances for evening fires at home have dwindled, I think we’re going to cancel that subscription. This is the future of newsprint: Canceling the paper subscription because of easy digital access to news feeds via a smart phone. I know plenty of folks who will probably NEVER cancel their print subscription to their local newspaper, but none of those people (as far as I know) have an iPhone or other smartphone either.

Literacy and our access to literature in various formats continues to morph and change. Thankfully, the tools at our fingertips (like Google Reader) continue to mature and grow in power as well.

I wonder how I’ll be reading my news in thirty more years?! It’s going to be a dynamic and exciting ride into the future. 🙂

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4 responses to “Sharing Google Reader feeds by tag and reflections on information flow management”

  1. tom Avatar

    If you’re switching to gmail, I strongly recommend the GTDinbox add-on. It sets up GTD style categories of labels, and it has helped me get my inbox to zero at least once or twice a week. I’m planning to write a little about it next weekend.

  2. Sue Waters Avatar

    Yes the shared Google Reader folder option has been around for awhile and one of my readers (John Larkin) told me about how to use it to create blogrolls when I wrote my series of posts on Getting more out of Google Reader.

    I now use it to create my blogroll but because my blog subscription is too big I’ve had to move it from my sidebar onto a page.

    Actually I disagree with David Warlick. If you limit yourself too much, especially with your twitter network, then it becomes very easy to get caught in group thinking. And if you aren’t careful get a very limited view of what’s actually happening and going on.

  3. Wesley Fryer Avatar

    Tom: The GTDinbox add-on for Firefox and Flock is one of the reasons I’m trying the GMail switch. I have it installed but not yet configured yet!

    Sue: I agree. Diverse voices are important for learning and avoiding an echo chamber!

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