Saturday, July 18, 2009

Google Reader Reveals Opportunities To Become an Industry Leader

I have been meaning to write another blog entry since Thursday, but I have been surrounded by a ton of distractions. When I write distractions, I mean noise. I have come to understand that I am a writer that needs almost complete silence. I know some can probably write an entire book while watching television and listening to music, I am just not that lucky.

This evening, I would like to spend a few minutes talking about Google Reader. To begin, let me explain that I use Reader as my centralized repository for a diverse group of RSS feeds. While there should be no surprise that I like web technology, I also like information on investing, living green, personal health, organizational behavior, New Edition, and bunch of other unrelated topics.


Wherever I go on the Internet, I seem to find interesting blogs or news sources that help keep me up-to-date. I never realized how much I like being in the know until I stopped reading so much and lost the ability to participate in a number of interesting conversations. Instead of being able to contribute to the conversation, I was trying to play catch up. I did not like the feeling and immediately made a mental note about revisiting my Google Reader.

I am not sure when I first began using Google Reader, but I know it has been several years. I initially used it to test a feed I created for Elizabeth City State University. Early on, my usage was light and I recall my visits were sporadic. For quite some time, I easily had over 1,000+ feeds waiting for my attentive eye. Finally, after fully understanding what I could do with Reader, it found its way into my daily routine.

At one point, I had so many feeds that I spent hours trying to get the number of unread items back down to zero. Oh, and do not let me skip a day because then I would have an overwhelming number of feeds that I just end up marking as read.

Today, I know that proper management of feeds is as important as the feed itself. I find that there are originators of news and then there are a ton of feeds that simply regurgitate the news. I found a number of duplicate stories in my Reader and spent way too much time clicking through them. So, it is important to sift through those that simply regurgitate news in search of those feeds that offer original information.

By now, you may have heard that Google Reader offers its users the ability to share feeds with others. Until Thursday, I probably only had one or two friends using Google Reader with any regularity. Because of this, I felt it was a waste of a good feature. Yes, I had Google Reader connected to Friendfeed, but for some reason I never understood how they worked together.

That is until this past week. Thanks to some additional features, we can share, like, comment, follow, and search for people that use Reader. I thought it was an exciting upgrade and something that will move Google closer to seriously competing in the social networking realm.

Personally, I believe Google is aware of Twitter, Facebook, and Friendfeed services and seeks to offer something comparable. I see they are doing it iteratively, which means it will take some time before Google is able to compete openly. Although, I think it is important to note that much of the activity on those sites is the sharing of links. Well, if Google Reader is a major resource for those who share links, doesn't it just make sense to eventually cut out the middleman (Twitter, Facebook, and Friendfeed)? I won't dive too deeply into that now, but I wanted to throw that out there.

My main purpose for this entry is to share an observation with you. Some may know, but I am currently working on my doctoral degree in business. One of the major activities for us students is to read journal articles on a variety of subjects. Additionally, as I slowly work on my dissertation proposal, I am reading articles to keep me abreast of the latest activities and findings within my area of study, which is volunteer commitment in the nonprofit organization. In both my personal, professional, and academic interests, I am constantly reading.

As a result of this habit, I find that I am more aware of the trends, buzz words, and issues affecting various industries. Needless to say, I am very excited about learning new things before the masses do. For those early adopters, we quietly form a bond of understanding and, at times, it leads to opportunity. It could be an opportunity to further my career by getting a jump on the competition. It could be an opportunity to contribute my own skills and talents to the cause. Instead of being a follower or consumer, I am able to transform into leader and contributor. That is a beautiful thing.

In the doctoral program, my dissertation is supposed to contribute something to the literature. My research is supposed to help businesses and individuals do better by releasing information that can assist them. In order to do that, I have to identify a need and be ready to fill it. In business, opportunities for success come to those that see a need and fill it. However, without knowledge and information, how can one make educated decisions or see the future before it happens?

The answer, to me at least, is to read. The more I read the latest blogs, for example, the more I learn about what is relevant today. I can help my company, family, friends, and cohorts by understanding the big picture and making connections in the literature that nobody else sees. It is through this connection and willingness to share that I, and you, can move from a consumer to a contributor. Together, we can transform our role from follower to leader. Will join me on that journey? I hope you will.

Until next time...

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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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