I love Google Reader. I used to read blogs and news by actually going to a million web pages regularly, but their designs were usually heinous looking and it took way to long to load them all on my browser. When I finally switched to using Google Reader, I was relieved to see that they were stripped of their ugly design and displayed in a highly readable fashion. That, and only unread stuff would come up, so I never again had to go to a friend’s blog and sigh, “No update… again.”
So, thank you, Google Reader, for being so awesome.
I do, however, really wish that it included a few features that would make it even awesomer.
Ability to Mark Things as “Read Later” – Often there is an excellent article and I just don’t have the time to really absorb it, so I want to read it later. Josh has some weird hack where he adds the article URL to a list (maybe on Delicious?) then subscribes to that news feed via RSS so it will show up in a “Read Later” folder on his Google Reader. ***Ha! Oh my gosh, I actually just went to Google Reader to figure this out and noticed a “Keep Unread” checkbox at the bottom of each article. And it works! I swear this wasn’t there a week ago and now… have I mentioned that I love Google? It’s as though they’re in my head absorbing my innermost thoughts and… okay, that’s creepy.***
Ability to Rank Articles with 1-5 Stars Instead of Just One – Currently I have the option to “Add Star” to an article and that’s it. I have been in conversations recently with other Google Reader users and we all use this feature for different reason. I use it to mark things I may want to easily access later and think are useful (Josh uses Delicious for that). Josh uses it to mark things he likes. Truth is, I wish I could add more stars to review the quality of an article, and, after a period of time I could look at how I have been ranking articles in a blog to determine if the blog has good value to me or not… see next wish.
More Individual Statistics on My Reading and the Ability to Send Feedback to a Blogger or News Site – So, I think that people who read blogs through a reader system take in a lot of information. And the truth is, the quality of that information is constantly in flux as bloggers fall off the face of the earth or suddenly start blogging only about their new baby (who would do that???). And, I want to be able to stop reading things that aren’t of value to me and continue reading things that are. So, if I could rank articles with 1-5 stars, and even add a comment to each individual entry as to why I ranked it as such, I could use that compiled information to organize and edit my reading list. And the bloggers could even access the information submitted by all of their readers to see how people are taking their posts. For example, I think I would continue reading a couple of blogs but block certain irritating authors who never have anything good to say. Currently, I have difficulty figuring out who they are because of the sheer volume of articles I read. I recognize that we could use comments within an individual’s blog to review an article, but those are more used for discussion of the topic at hand (or questioning a person’s sexuality or calling people douchebags or saying “wow! you’re so great! i love everything about you!” or saying “are we still on for pizza friday night?”). A review, on the other hand, is feedback on the type of content you’re presenting, the manner in which you are presenting it, learning what appeals to readers, improving writing style, etc. And, with Google’s awesomeness, they could compile statistics for bloggers and blog readers to help both of us read and write better.
The thought of these things makes me drool and feel happy.