3 ways I use Google Reader to do things other than read

The ultimate Swiss Army Knife for sale in Interlaken

A post by George Veletseanos got me thinking about one of the key tools in my PLE – Google Reader – and how I use GReader for things other than reading the myriad of sites and blogs I subscribe to. Here are three things I do with GReader beyond reading.

1) Archive my tweets.

I subscribe to the RSS feed of my Twitter account. I started doing this back in the day when Twitter capped access to old tweets at “about a month” or around 3000, or some other ridiculous number. Now, with Twitter tightening developer access to their api’s, we may begin to see services that allow you access old tweets slowly dwindle.

If you have some server skills, you might want to use a tool called ThinkUp to archive tweets (which not only archives, but also gives you some Twitter stats on your own network activity).

But not everyone has access to their own server or the chops to install and configure their own web service, so a relatively quick and dirty way to archive your tweets is to subscribe to the RSS feed of your Twitter account.

Now, your Twitter accounts RSS feed is even tougher to find than the RSS feed for a Delicious tag. To subscribe to the RSS feed of a Twitter account, you need to know your Twitter user id number. You can do this using a service like MyTwitterID or IDFromUser and then plunking that number into the following url:


Replacing the xxxxx with your Twitter ID number. Pop that RSS feed in GReader and you are archiving your own tweets.

This is also handy if I want to archive the tweets of key members of my PLN and take advantage of the second thing I like to do in GReader…

2) Search my trusted network for resources.

In GReader, you’ve got the power of Google search,  and I  often use that as a place to start my search about a group of topics. After all, I only add sites that I trust and have vetted as being a valuable resource to me, so who go to the crazy wild web first when I can go directly to the sources I have curated?

3) Track my own comments.

If I add a comment to a blog post, I will subscribe to that comment feed so I can follow up with what gets posted as comments and take part in the conversation. I have tried a number of comment tracking services over the years, but still find this the most reliable and user friendly way to track conversation on blogs. In Greader I have a folder called Comments, and when I subscribe to the Comments feed for a blog post, I add the feed there. That way I can take track the convo and take part in the conversation.

So those are 3 ways that I use Google Reader beyond reading. How about you? Any hacks or ways you use Google Reader that is a bit unusual?

Photo: The Ultimate Swiss Army Knife by redjar used under Creative Commons license.


Translate feeds with Google Reader

Translate in Google Reader

I had my horizons greatly expanded this week when I discovered a feature of Google Reader I didn’t know existed. Google Reader will translate foreign language feeds into English. To access the translation feature, click on either view settings or folder settings, depending on where you currently are in Google Reader.

Now, if you have ever used Google Translate, then you know what gets spit out at the other end is often a linguistic nightmare. But it is improving and will continue to improve, and it opens up the possibilities for me to follow along with the work of my peers in other languages. Maybe someone can recommend some French speaking edtechies from Quebec I can follow?

Actually, who am I kidding. The biggest benefit for me is now the ability to follow the progress of Canadian soccer players plying their trade in Germany, Spain, Romania and the Netherlands.

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Why I like Feedly

Feedly is a Firefox extension that allows you to create a magazine like start page for your Google Reader subscriptions and while the  magazine style does add a nice look and feel to Google Reader, that isn’t what I like about Feedly. What I like about Feedly is that it  allows me to find content I am searching for from my trusted sources (in this case, my Google Reader subscriptions) without changing my current search process. Feedly does this by extending my general Google search to my Google Reader subscriptions, and adds matching results to my Google search results page.

Search results augmented by Feedly

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Let me give you an example.  This morning one of my students emailed me a Globe and Mail article about copyright, bloggers, big media and republishing rights (Gatehouse, NYTimes settle copyright suit). I wasn’t familiar with this story so, after reading it, I wanted to find out a bit more, like who is Gatehouse Media (an aside – if the Globe would have included a link to the company in their article this step wouldn’t have been needed). Over to Google I go and search for GateHouse and get my standard set of results that I can begin sifting though.

But wait – what is this? Because I have Feedly installed, there is a list of matches from my sources showing up. Feedly has searched my Google Reader subscriptions to find matches and is presenting me those results in the regular Google search results page.  Here are incredibly relevant results, vetted by me from my trusted sources. This immediately gives me a much richer and accurate set of search results than if I relied on a standard Google search.

Now, if you are a Google Reader user you might be saying I could do the get the same kind of network result if I just started my search in Google Reader using the built in Google Search engine, which is true. But what is nice about Feedly is that I don’t have to take that extra step of doing my search in 2 places – Google and Google Reader. Feedly slips right into my current workflow unobtrusively and without the need to repeat myself.

This concept of searching your network is something that I touched on briefly in the current SCoPE seminar Scott Leslie is doing on Open Educational Resources. The question posed there is how do you currently find open educational resources?  Increasingly we are going to have to rely on our personal networks. We need to find those sources we trust (which is something we have been doing for a long time) and find simple ways to mine their collective intelligence in order to effectively find what we need. This little feature of Feedly helps me do that.