Friday, October 12, 2012

A Shameless Plug for Google Reader

I'm writing this mainly for the benefit of my classmates, but some regular blog followers may also find it useful.

In this program, and in jobs that my classmates and I are likely to hold in the future, a good daily intake of news from multiple sources is critical to maintaining the situational awareness necessary to make recommendations or take actions based upon informed analysis. In the past, I've taken the time each day to go to individual websites and review their news, but thanks to advances in technology, there's a more efficient way to do this.

My buddy Chops introduced me to Google Reader a couple of years ago, but I only really started using it on a regular basis earlier this year. Google Reader is an RSS aggregator. What that means is that you can plug the links from the RSS feeds of your favorite news websites, blogs, and a variety of other personal interest sites, and they'll all aggregate to a single point. Google Reader allows you to review all new entries in chronological sequence, or sequentially according to source. For example, if three different websites produce nine new entries between them in the course of an hour, you can review all nine in sequence, or you can go to each of the three feeds and review them as individual feeds.

Here are a couple of videos to introduce you to Google Reader:

By using Google Reader, I'm able to cut my daily news review times down considerably. Google Reader makes it easy to scroll through articles that aren't of interest, and to read the ones that I feel are important, either within the window itself, or by opening up the individual websites. It allows me to download podcasts efficiently, displays my favorite web comics, and keeps me abreast of websites I might otherwise forget about. I know of at least one U.S. Coast Guard organization that uses Google Reader to aggregate OSINT, I'm reasonably sure that I know of another DoD activity that does the same, and I suspect that the guys at Small Wars Journal use it or something similar when assembling their daily SWJ Roundup. Had I gotten on the ball sooner, Google Reader would have made me a lot more efficient at several of the duties I was tasked with in the Middle East. I can't speak to its accessibility on Apple devices, but before I arrived in Aberdeen and encountered the University's almighty proxy server, I had great results reviewing my feed on Android devices like my Motorola Droid 4 and my Kindle Fire.

Here's a list of most of what I have in my Google Reader feed:

Mainstream News:
  • BBC News - Middle East (RSS)
  • BBC News - NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland (RSS)
  • - WORLD (RSS)
  • - WORLD/Middle East (RSS)
  • The Guardian (RSS)
  • Times Of Oman (RSS)
  • Oman Observer (RSS)

    Specialty News and Blogs:
  • 1913 Intel (RSS)
  • CNAS: Abu Muqawama (RSS)
  • CNN Security Clearance Blog (RSS)
  • Michael J. Totten (RSS)
  • Michael Yon (RSS)
  • (RSS)
  • Site Intelligence Group - Jihadist News (RSS)
  • Small Wars Journal (RSS)
  • The Long War Journal (Site-Wide) (RSS)
  • Understanding War (RSS)
  • The Guardian: Julian Borger's global security blog (RSS)
  • Danger Room (RSS)
  • Threat Level (RSS)

  • BBC Xtra Arabic Podcasts (RSS)
  • BBC Documentaries (RSS)
  • BBC Global News Podcast (RSS)
  • BBC Newshour (RSS)
  • KCL Department of War Studies' Podcast (RSS)
  • Past Events - The Heritage Foundation (RSS)
  • KSL Nightside Project (RSS)
  • Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo's Film Reviews (RSS)
  • Orkney Talking Newspaper (RSS)
  • The Faroe Islands Podcast (RSS)
  • The History Chicks (RSS)
  • The Sporkful (RSS)

    Personal Interest:
  • NASA: Astronomy Picture of the Day (RSS)
  • Musings from a Stonehead (RSS)
  • Flickr: Callum McKain (RSS)
  • Flickr: chimpaction (RSS)
  • Flickr: Defence Images (RSS)
  • Flickr: Official U.S. Navy Imagery (RSS)
  • Flickr: oregonmildep (RSS)
  • Flickr: Orkneyjar (RSS)
  • Flickr: The U.S. Army (RSS)
  • Flickr: United States Marine Corps Official Page (RSS)

    Web Comics:
  • AmazingSuperPowers (RSS)
  • Ctrl+Alt+Del (RSS)
  • Cyanide and Happiness (RSS)
  • Filibuster Cartoons (RSS)
  • Pearls Before Swine (RSS)
  • Penny Arcade (RSS)
  • Real Life Comics (RSS)
  • Romantically Apocalyptic (RSS)
  • Wondermark (RSS)
  • (RSS)

    A final point: Google Reader also allows users to export and import their feeds from one Google account to another through a simple XML file download/upload. If anyone reading this is interested in saving time by importing my feed file and then adding their own additional selections, let me know and I'll be happy to E-mail it to you.
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