Well, what do you know, I go to the SEOmoz Web 2.0 Awards and there is my previously mentioned iGoogle, ranking third in the Start Pages category. I could have tried out one of the others, but since I’ve been talking about customizing an iGoogle page forever, it seemed like the thing to do.

My verdict is that it’s fun, but I wouldn’t say it’s absolutely necessary. Of course, if I find out that I can have all my Google apps available on one tab for my viewing, which is probably possible and I missed it, then it will be come necessary. It was fun looking at all the widgets they have for it, but overall, I don’t feel like this is adding to my life in any way. It’s just something else to look at.

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Google Docs has been on my personal to-do list for a while…that and iGoogle, sigh. Just this week I got my first invite as a Google Docs collaborator for a meeting agenda. Suspiciously, this agenda was written by another 23 Things participant…I’ve got my eye on you, Mary! So, I got my first chance to edit a collaborative document and so far so good! The only objection I have to it is the part where you share the doc. It’s really confusing. For instance, I wanted to send my updates for this agenda to all the contributors and add a couple more contributors, but for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how! Perhaps if I bothered to do a tutorial, or read some instructions. There seems to be a trend emerging where I won’t “stop and ask for directions.” That’s no good.

That first part there was written in Google Docs and posted to my blog from that application. It was a snap to set it up. Oddly enough, it didn’t post to my blog immediately. It was listed as scheduled in my post manager. I wonder when it would have posted, as it is 6:42 and it said it was scheduled for 5:42. I’ll have to investigate this further and I’m sure it has something to do with mismatched time zones.

I’m finding that the collaborative element of Google Docs is much like a Wiki, and I think this is where a lot of 2.0 confusion comes from. So many of these tools overlap, it’s difficult to know when to choose which one. When would it be better to choose Google Docs over PBWiki? I guess you’d have to play with both of them more to answer this question, but who has time for that. Sometimes you just want to know “this is the tool to use, learn this one and go.”

I put this invitation out there on my RSS post to explore Google Reader sharing with me and, by gum, someone took the bait! Thanks, Rhonda!

Of course, this meant that I’d actually have to figure out how. Well, like all things Google, there is not the way, there are the ways. So here’s the breakdown:

  1. Friends via Google Brand – people who have Google Talk or Gmail Chat and have Google Reader accounts are automatically subscribed to your shared items. There’s even a handy little link in the main Google Reader menu for “Friend’s Shared Items.” As one would expect, Google brand products communicate very nicely with each other. My fella is auto-subscribed to my Google Reader which is nice for him because I share all of the Linux tips I find. Verdict: This is the way for Google Brand junkies who have or would be willing to enable the chat function for each other.
  2. A direct link – lucky for everyone, Google is not vicious and they’ve provided many other ways, like a link to your shared items. It’s right there when you click on “Shared Items” in Reader, as are the rest of these options. It’s nice because it sends the user to a page formatted nicely for the viewing public. Verdict: this is the way for people who do not have or want feed readers but do a bit of bookmark/favorites checking.
  3. A feed – better yet, if all parties have feed readers, you can give that to folks and they can set you up in their reader. The feed is available from your link page. Verdict: this is the way for folks who have feed readers, even Google Readers, but are not your chattin’ buddies.
  4. Email – you can email your list directly to folks who do not really keep favorites/bookmarks or have readers. Google is smart; it only send a short message and the link to your shared page, and also the feed, which would be a good way to get the feed to friends without too much hassle. Verdict: this is the way for folks who aren’t really tethered to the internet but check email. Also a convenient way to get the feed to your reader folks.
  5. Put it in your Blog – you can insert a clip of your shared items into your blog. Let’s try it out, shall we…hmmm, no luck. Reader does specify that the script they give you to cut and paste needs to be added to a javascript enabled blah, blah, blah. I’ll figure this one out later. If you’re a Blogger user, this is super easy because you just click a button that says “Add to Blogger,” which I would imagine works something like blogging from Flickr. Verdict: Awesome for Blogger users, may also be nice for snappier folks who can figure out how to get into other blogs!

Thanks, Google, for a plethora of ways to share stuff. Rhonda, I’d say our best bet is to try option 3, and anyone else who wants to give it a go. Here’s the feed to my shared items (right click, copy link location, and paste into the area where you add subscriptions).

Feed

Feel free to delete it when your done playing if you have no interest in the following topics:

  1. Linux
  2. Google and Mozilla extensions
  3. Weird practical tips, like keeping onions in pantyhose
  4. Open source software