When we submitted our paper on young adult author blogs (see above), one of the questions our professor asked was whether we used blog readers, and whether we found them helpful. In honour of the new year (an excellent time for trying out new things!) I thought I’d go ahead and offer my answer to the question.
While I’ve become a big fan of blogs over the last couple of years — there’s just something about that blend of thought-provoking content and conversational tone in pieces short enough for me to read while I wait for my bus in the morning — I didn’t try a blog reader until this past fall. What that meant in practice was that I bookmarked a lot of blogs that intrigued me, but only returned to the handful whose titles I could remember, and then only when I had the time and wifi connection to jump from site to site. For the most part I avoided e-mail subscriptions, since the e-mail lists I sign up for, despite good intentions, generally end up filed away unread — I won’t tell you how many word-of-the-day e-mails I have waiting for me.
As a means of keeping track of the author blogs we wanted to cover for our paper (my share of them, anyway), I downloaded a couple of blog reader apps to try. While they have their downside — I’m now unreasonably irritated when a particular blog proves to be incompatible with my reader — overall I’ve been pretty satisfied with my experiences. My favourite of the readers I’ve tried is one called Pulse, which allows me to sort my blogs into categories and presents each category of blogs in a stack of horizontally-scrollable strings of recent posts, complete with headline images. I’m now able to check on a couple dozen blogs and read the posts that interest me in just a few minutes. I do miss out on the original settings of the blogs reading them this way, including the archive links, recommended posts, and comment threads, but for the most part, this is a good system for me.
I suppose, in brief, my answer is this: I’ve grown to really like my blog reader. If your primary interest in blogs is keeping up to date on the content, I recommend trying a few different blog readers to find one with a format and features that serve your purposes. If it’s the sense of community or the rabbit trails that bring you back to your favourite blogs, a blog reader may not be the best option — at least not from what I’ve seen so far.