Bits of Tech: Google Reader Shared Items

This is the second installment of an occasional series on the various bits of technology I use in this blog.

Welcome!  You’re here!  That means you read blogs (well, I’m assuming you read more than just this one).  If you read blogs, an RSS reader is a handy tool.  If you already know about RSS readers, you may want to skip the following two paragraphs.

RSS readers, like Google Reader, allow you to0 pull feeds from various blogs and read them in a central location.  You subscribe to the blogs you want to read, and the latest posts automatically show up in your RSS reader.  You can just read them there, or you can click through to the actual site and leave a comment.  In some cases, only part of the post will show up in your reader and you’ll have to click through if you want to read the whole post (I don’t like that, but whatever).

In order to do this, you have to do two things:  1. Sign up for an RSS reader service.  There are several good ones; Google Reader, Bloglines, Netvibes and My Yahoo are just a few.  2.  Subscribe to some feeds.  Usually, a blog will have a button somewhere on the page with an RSS symbol (rss).  Click the button, and then select your RSS reader if necessary.

I’m subscribed to 206 blogs in Google Reader (which is really too many).  Often, when I’m reading blogs I find something that interests me, or that contains useful information, or that I think others would be interested in.  I don’t always want to devote a whole post to sharing a link, though, so instead, I just click the Share button.

Now, if we were “friends” on Google Reader, you’d be able to see my shared items (just like friends can see my activity on Facebook). However, I don’t have any friends on Google Reader.  Shocking, I know.  After all, the whole point of the internet is to rack up as many friends as possible on as many sites as possible.

If you want to friend me on Google Reader, go ahead!  But here’s what I really do with my shared items:  I have them show up in a widget on the left side of this blog.  You can see what I’m reading, and what I think is worth sharing, right there.

If you’re on Google Reader, you can get a Shared Items widget by clicking on Shared Items in the left sidebar of your reader, and then clicking on Add a clip.  You can then adjust the title, color scheme, and number of items before copying and pasting the code into your blog or website (I pasted the code into a text widget in WordPress).

If you really, really like my shared items, you can even subscribe to a feed of them.  But be careful.  Subscribing to feeds can be addictive.