Google Reader is the best research tool I've found. "Regular" Google searches result in reams of pages that--more and more--seem biased by spamming and commercial interests, requiring hours of tedious DSL-speed page opening and closing to sort through. Reader, on the other hand, allows you to focus your search by first identifying the authoritative voices blogging on subjects relevant to your start up idea, then aggregating feeds from those blogs into a personal, automatically assembled and self-renewing stream of information which you scroll through in your Reader window. My research became 500%-1,000% more efficient the day I dscovered Reader. Of course Reader was only meaningful because of first discovering who I should be following, and I did that via the various podcasts I was listening to as described in my last post.
The basics are as follows:
- go to the Reader link at top of your gmail page (and if you don't use gmail, please start).
- type in the name of a blog or author if you have one, pull up their "feed" and subscribe, or
- type in a subject of interest, wander through the amazing list of results Google supplies, and subscribe to those of interest
Reader adds the blog to the column on the left of your new Reader page, and later allows you to organize your blogs by subject folder. When you highlight a single blog or folder, only the contents of that stream appear in the Reader field, allowing you to scroll through the information from all--or just related--blogs in a single rolling feed. This allows you to go right to your most-read daily items ("The Daily Dish" & "Mashable" for me) as often (or in my case, compulsively) as you want, and save work-related research for work times. The efficiency and time savings from NOT having to bounce around between different blog sites in your browser is reason alone to adopt Reader, but Reader goes way beyond that.
For example, you can subscribe to all the blogs that a list of noted authorities and/or celebrities subscribe to. (Seriously, it's very cool.) Or you can browse blogs by subject matter as pre-organized by Google. And Reader lets you store articles of interest in a number of ways, including posting them to your own blog with a single click (btw, Google's free blog tool is called Blogger and that's worth a chapter, though my current favorite is Posterous.com) starring them, sharing them as part of your own RSS feed, or emailing them, and you can do all of that from within the stream (vs. taking all the time to open up the original source page then doing it). Just go and get lost in it for an hour or two and you'll quickly appreciate the efficiencies it brings, not to mention the amazing new factoid you discovered about QR codes or Paypal making mobile payment form your cellphone possible.
But the real reason to use Reader if you're an unemployed architect starting up is that for those fields related to your start up and about which you have to know as much as possible, there is no more efficient way to explore, absorb, document and organize the information. Give it a try. And then please thank me in the comments below so I know you're all reading this:)