Google Reader – Mark Until Current As Read

I am an ardent feed consumer. I easily have over 300 feeds in my Google Reader and read them whenever I get a chance. The feeds include technology blogs, photography blogs, local news, startup blogs, blogs by famous people, blogs that help me in my projects etc.

It’s just not possible for me to visit every feed category every day, so I frequently see some of these categories overflow with posts.

Now I know there are extensive blog posts which describe how to better manage feeds and to cut down on information overload. But as we all know there is no simple solution.

So here I was using Google Reader and just skimming through the posts when I came across this need.

Suppose a feed has about 100 unread posts and I have skimmed through half of them, and read one in between that I thought was interesting, I am now left with quite a few posts on top of my read post, that I am not interested in reading but want to mark them as read so I don’t need to see them again. Would it be possible to mark these as read leaving the rest untouched?

The recent changes to Google Reader provide one option – Mark all entries older than a day, week or month as read. But this does not exactly serve the purpose.

I ended up hacking a Greasemonkey script to do exactly what I wanted.

Here is how the script behaves:

Just press Ctrl+Alt+Y and the script will mark all entries above the current read entry as ‘read’. Ctrl+Alt+I will mark all entries below the current entry as read – for people who read backwards. 🙂

Added benefits:

  • This also works with search results in Google Reader.
  • The script works with entire folders, so you can skim through all posts in a folder marking the ones you have skimmed as read.

How it works:
The script uses the css class names to determine which posts are unread above (or below) the current post. Once it obtains this list, it simulates a click on each of these posts and thereby marks them as read. Simple as that!

This script is part of the Better GReader extension and has featured in Lifehacker.

In order to install the Google Reader – Mark Until Current As Read script, visit this site.

The Afterthoughts – If Google came up with an RSS Reader

So here is another post in The Afterthoughts series.

Post: If Google came up with an RSS Reader
Originally posted on: 2005-01-30

This post was made long before Google came up with Google Reader. I was experimenting with RSS readers and started wondering what it would be like if Google came up with an RSS reader.

Now that we have one from Google, it is time to look back and see how my expectations matched with the actual product.

> * It would first buy the domain “greader” or something similar.
This didn't happen. However, Google Reader is popularly called GReader. I guess I made this comment because of Gmail.
On a side note, Google does own greader.net.

> * It would have an index of more than 8 million different feeds.
This is not how an RSS reader has evolved. Google Reader does have recommendations based on the feeds you already have. It would be good to see an integration of Google Blogsearch or even Google News with Google Reader. The only integration I see is the subscription of search results from both of these in Google Reader (a 'new' feature).

> * It would offer 1 GB space for storing posts.
The storage in most online readers is unlimited.

> * It would have an excellent search feature for searching posts.
This was a surprise! The feature came in so late. Totally unexpected.

> * The interface would be simple, but at the same time powerful.
You bet this has been true. The keyboard shortcuts are just superb. The speed with which you can navigate and read feeds is extremely good. (You will need my script to make it even faster. :))

> * We would be able to mail any post just at the click of a button.
I guess this feature has been around since quite some time now.

> * It would allow us to filter posts and also label them for future reference.
With tagging and folders, this has been better than expected.

> * It would also allow us to make blog entries (of course the service would be integrated with Blogger.)
Again, this is a surprise. Google has not provided any integration with Blogger. However, recently Google added a feature to share an item with notes. With the microblogging revolution, and Google having acquired Jaiku, I guess that integration will happen first.

> * It would integrate greader with other offerings like mail, groups etc.
The integration is not that great as of now. It would be cool to see posts related to a mail, or a message in a group etc.

> It would be Beta forever. 🙂
Surprise! This isn't true!

Final thoughts:
So after more than 3 years since I made the original post, (which is a lot of time in technological evolution) I should say, Google did match most of the expectations that I had back then, some features were developed much better than what I had expected. However the integration with other services is one thing where it could have done better.

Google and innovation – take 2

About a couple of years back, I wrote about how Google had a tight integration between its various services, and how Yahoo lacked it.

However when I made that entry, Google had very few services and Yahoo had lots of them. In fact, Google was primarily a search company and Gmail and Calendar were just new arrivals in the scene.

However now that Google has already been Yahoo 2.0, it's time to look at Google's offerings again and see how they have fared.

The first impression is that Google has done tremendously well. Although they have acquired several companies in the last couple of years, they have been very quick in integrating these applications with their portfolio. Orkut, Gmail/Gtalk integration, Gmail/Google docs integration, Google Mashup Editor are some examples.

However on second thoughts, it looks like there is a lot that is still to be done.

What kind of integration can we expect?

  • You bookmark resources in various services
    • Starring entries in Google Reader
    • Starring posts in Google Groups
    • Starring Google search results
    • Noting down items or clipping entries in Google Notebook
    • Indicating your favorite books in Google Books.
Why is there no single 'Google bookmarks' service?
  • Social network everywhere
Mail and IM are inherently social applications. However with the new Facebook revolution, a social network revolves around everything we do over the web. Google already has its own social network. How well is this integrated with its various services? More on Google Reader social network integration.
  • Presence awareness everywhere
A related expectation is presence awareness in various Google services. GMail has a tight integration with GTalk. Why is a similar presence awareness not available in Google Reader, Google Docs etc?
  • Uniform look and feel
Google has been doing very well here. However, some bit of work is required on sites like Orkut and Youtube.
  • Attention profiling
Google has a log of your search history. However, I guess it would be interesting to integrate this data with your mail interactions, your Google reader trends, your group activities, interactions on Orkut, sites you browse etc.

It is a complex problem to solve. You don't know what the various interaction points between the various services are or what the various dimensions are for these applications. However, we learn some of these over time. For example, it looks like social networks and attention profiling are here to stay. So if you are building an application, ensure that it is integrated well with some social network and also takes into account the attention information of a user.

Google Reader finally has search!

This was one feature that I was missing in Google Reader. So, while I tried the Google Custom Search when I really missed it, I was not quite happy with it, since it was showing up really old posts and there was no obvious way of viewing only 'relevant' posts or 'new' posts.

I have also tried a couple of GreaseMonkey scripts. But I was not happy with the user-interface integration.

So finally today, I open Google reader and see a tiny box on the top and wonder for a moment if it was some GreaseMonkey script running. Then I make a search and am convinced it is not! I also make a search in Google News to make sure it is true. And yeah, here is the confirmation. This is perhaps the most long awaited feature ever with regard to Google's applications.

The integration is just too good. Plus there is option to search only within specific tags or subscriptions. There is suggest in the drop down of tags and subscriptions. And guess what, there is also a way to reach the result page directly. Just create a keyword bookmark for: http://www.google.com/reader/view/#search/%s/ and give it a keyword like grs (Google Reader Search) and then use your browser address bar to perform a search directly in Google Reader, for example, 'grs eclipse'.

Suits me perfectly! Finally I feel like I am playing with an ATOM store rather than a simple feed reader.