Part two of an impromptu two-part series on my latest content browsing and sharing tools focuses on Feedly. Feedly is a Firefox add-on developed in 2008 and seemingly in a constant state of growth and innovation. Feedly aggregates your RSS and shared content and follows you around the web so that you can easily gauge the discussion from pretty much anywhere you go. Describing itself: “Feedly is a Firefox extension which weaves twitter and Google Reader into a magazine like experience.” The “win” part for content gathering is that Feedly will “read” your interests and attempt to float the cream to the top of the list for you.
Up front is a slick magazine-like interface that is easy to navigate, expand, share from and comment upon with real-time aspects. Feedly highlights material deemed most relevant based on your interests, reading patterns and recommendations from friends. It pulls articles from Google Reader, with the ability to add feeds directly into your Feedly. It pulls your friends and other information from other social sites, such as Twitter, Yahoo, Gmail and Friendfeed.
Feedly attempts to suggest and refine your information based on the data it can pull and the preferences you can enter. Along the left side of the home page are buttons to change the view – cover, digest and latest. Each show similar information in different aspects and focus. Cover offers the greatest breadth, with the top few stories from your various feed categories in a series of columns at the top, the number of new articles from your featured sources list, a video gallery based on your interests, your Twitter stream and mentions, your “karma” (more on that later), and a suggested Twitter search item. Flickr photos grace the bottom.
Digest offers a long list of articles with a blurb in a single column, with your featured sources and less Twitter information along the right side, as well as the video and Flickr gallery. Latest looks a whole lot like Google Reader showing the titles only of posts in reverse chronological order, but with a cleaner interface and pretty much nothing else.
Here is a screen shot showing the top portion of my Cover view:
Setting changes are made from your dashboard, via the access button at the top of the home page. Feedly strongly suggests grouping and organizing your feeds in categories to maximize the experience. Changes made in Feedly will be applied to Google Reader and vice versa. My Google Reader categories were sucked into Feedly automatically.
Use the “favorite” button – a star next to a feed title – to mark your best sources so that these items can be highlighted on your page. You can even assign views for each feed, depending on how you prefer to see the information from a particular source: titles only; title and summary; picture grid; video grid; and, entire content inlined. Much of the housekeeping in Feedly can be easily accomplished with drag-and-drop, so it is easy to set up and subsequently change your viewing experience, albeit a somewhat time-consuming process.
The articles are equipped with buttons to like and share. This adds value to your own experience by tailoring subsequent information coming to you and adds value to your social network by offering articles of interest to them. When you expand an article by clicking on its title, you will see more of the article, as well as buttons for keeping the article unread, highlighting semantic metadata, previewing and copying the link. The semantic metadata button will highlight semantic concepts in the article, providing background information in a pop-up on the concept and offer a link out to more fully explore that particular concept in Feedly from your sources, news, Twitter + Friendfeed and across the web. You will also see how many recommendations the article has and a list of buttons to share on Twitter, Delicious, Friendfeed, Gmail, Facebook and in both Feedly and Google Reader with a note. At the bottom of the expanded article, you will see the how many times it was clicked on in the Tweet stream, Friendfeed conversations, and the likes and comments the article has garnered in Google Reader and Feedly.
You can keep track of what your friends are sharing and what they are saying about the articles you share in your Feedly. Karma is a section of the cover that shows you how people react to the material that you share. It shows what you have liked and shared. It also shows the number of clicks on the item and where else it has been shared.
You can find all of your shared and saved items easily from a button on the left of the main screen. You also can pull your recent history. All of these are great features to help you track where you have been and what you are doing and where you might like to return in the future.
Another VERY cool feature of Feedly is Ubiquity integration. I have written about Ubiquity on the Studio before, praising it for streamlining and integrating web services with quick keyboard clicks. Just install the latest version of Feedly and the latest version of Ubiquity to start using and generating your own commands. Feedly also integrates Google search, via a bar at the top of the your home screen.
Feedly can shadow your wanderings as well. As you work your way around the web, a little Feedly mini bar shows up at the bottom of the screen showing how many times the site has been shared on other sites, like Friendfeed and allowing you to share or save the article in Feedly or Google Reader, share on Twitter, email using Gmail and navigate to another article that Feedly will suggest based on your interests and prior likes and shares. Here is a great image diagramming the mini tool-bar from Sarah Perez’s article on the subject at ReadWriteWeb:
The Feedly mini toolbar knows if an article has been a popular subject on Friendfeed. If so, a pop-up will show up with a bit of the conversation, allowing you to jump over to the conversation on Friendfeed and join in. All of these features can be selected / deselected.
Your personalized Feedly can be accessed from multiple machines, provided they also are running Firefox.
Feedly is all about tailoring your news sources and making them easier to scan, read and share. To say it is an all-encompassing experience might be an understatement. I find that Feedly has completely supplanted my Google Reader-ing with its easier-to-review look and NASCAR pit crew-sized box of tools. And Feedly seems ravenous about evolving and becoming more, better, faster, stronger, able to leap tall buildings in single bounds, etc. If you don’t have Feedly or Firefox, you definitely owe it to yourself to make the switch!