Google has not surprisingly developed and released Google Reader and iGoogle, two of the coolest tools that make reading RSS feeds and keeping up with whatever you want to keep up with easier. I personally prefer Google Reader strictly because of the Share feature. I can read an article or clip in the Reader and if I want it to appear on the ‘Shared Items’ widget on my Shared Items page, I only need to click one button. A widget is an embedded object in a webpage, also sometimes referred to as gadgets, snippets and flakes. Examples of widgets on my site are the meebo chat widget (which allows you to chat with me if I am signed into my meebo account directly from my website), the flickr slideshow (you can see by clicking the flickr page), and the aforementioned shared items page. Widgets are really cool.
The power of RSS and widgets is the power of portability, consolidation and convenience. No longer do you have to waste your time and energy pointing, clicking, and typing to go to different websites to find new and interesting content. By clicking one of the four(!) RSS feeds links on my website, you can subscribe to my posts and/or comments and thus can see if there is new content without visiting the site. If you have an RSS reader configured, you need only click the button on the top left part of the page or the RSS link in the Meta section. If you use one of Google’s tools, I’ve added the aptly named ‘Add to Google’ button so you can easily subscribe to my site. After subscribing, the RSS reader will automatically show the title and/or content of my posts sorted in ascending order by date posted. Depending on your reader, you can either view the content of the post by clicking on the entry or directly in your reader. You’ll see that other not-as-cool sites like the Economist, Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, youtube, etc all have RSS feeds so you can check to see if any of their content is new or interesting too. Pretty cool.
iGoogle is Donna’s tool of choice for the moment. iGoogle is more than just an RSS reader because it allows users to add tabs and widgets to their iGoogle page. Predictably Donna added this really cool website, a games tab, weather info, a countdown to our trip to Linthicum, a Picasa widget with her photo albums, and a NY Times feed among other things. iGoogle is in essence a flexible, robust, dynamic one-stop shop. Google has also made it easier for non-developers to create and share widgets.