Google Reader: The Latest in RSS Fun

Via plasticbag, I found Google’s new (RSS) Reader tool.

I was able to import my subscriptions from a Bloglines XML export without any trouble. Now I’m trying to get my head around the interface. Since I just suscribed to the feeds, there are no items associated with them at the moment. That makes it hard for me to understand exactly how the service works. According to the Reader: “Items published from now on will begin appearing in [my] reading list.” I can also click a link to view older items from a source. But since there are no current items, I can’t quite tell what reading experience will be like. Right now, there doesn’t seem to be a place that aggregates/clearly presents all the new items in my feeds. I definitely want that feature.

Frankly, on first inspection, the interface feels like it is trying to hard. The “lens” feature is a cool looking way to navigate the feeds, but it doesn’t seem as intuitive or simple as most Google interfaces. And I definitely don’t think it is as intuitive (or simple) as the Bloglines interface.

That said, I like how I can add my own tags to any post (for finding later) and how I can also freely tag my feeds. Just like in Gmail, I can also “star” a post. I’m not sure what this does. Does it keep that post around for me (like Bloglines Clippings) even when it has dropped off the XML feed? A system for creating some persistence for certain items is important to me. Before I started using Bloglines (I was using NetNewsWire Lite) I was regularly reading items and then “losing” them.

There is also a link labeled “Read items.” There’s nothing there now, and I’m not sure what it means. It is past-tense, as in “items I’ve read” (maybe this is where old items persist). Or is it a directly: Go Read These Items (because they’re new? because you’ve starred them). I don’t know. I’ll have to keep playing around until I figure it out.

It is also possible to send a post via Gmail or post to Blogger blog directly (no surprise there).

As with most Google Beta releases, documentation/explanation is light (if not non-existent).

In any case, a tool worth watching. . .