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What’s a good read?

"I sincerely believe that what you read or watch or listen to greatly influences your creative style," says Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan.

entertainment Updated: Jan 13, 2009 13:25 IST
Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan
Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan
Hindustan Times

I sincerely believe that what you read or watch or listen to greatly influences your creative style. For instance, I have been watching a lot of that classic show The Gilmore Girls of late.

I find that not only are their super-fast intonations entering my speech patterns, but also that I am walking like them, dressing like them and recently, also dreaming of them. (I’ve probably been watching more than the recommended dosage.) So when I write, I find the words in my head sounding a lot like what they’d say. What can I say — I’m impressionable. I once went through a Jane Austen phase where I began to use words like “courting” in my everyday writing.

Anyway, so you want a super blog. And I assume somewhere in your mind you have a picture of this super blog you want to create. I also assume this picture has been influenced by stuff you’ve seen or read online. This is where today’s column jumps in. How do you organise your online reading material so you’re getting access to the best of the best, which should then help make your blog one of them?

Get a feed reader
Anyone who reads a lot of blogs should have a feed reader. What is a feed reader? Good question. Every website these days comes with a little shiny button saying RSS feeds (and since RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, you know it’s easy to use).

Basically, it aggregates content from websites and puts them in a format that you can access from one website — your feed reader website. RSS feeds make it effortless for people on the go to check their reading material through phones and things.

They are also an easy way of checking if your favourite website or blog has been updated recently. A good post to read about this is over here: http://anoopjohn. com/09/01/09/for-goodness-sake-use-that-feed-reader-a-howto-on-using-a-feed-reader

Some popular feed readers
Now, everyone has favourites for their technology of choice, so I’m simply going to point to the most popular feed readers out there. For the first time user, you’d be wise to get Bloglines (www.bloglines.com).

With a tagline like “It’s the same Internet minus the clutter”, Bloglines makes surfing hassle free and you don’t have to open a hundred different windows (which means just one Alt + Tab when your boss comes and looks over your shoulder). I like the snazzy interface and the mobile applications, I’ve heard, are pretty easy to use also.

If you’re a Googlephile — and really, who isn’t, these days? — try the Google Reader (google.com/reader). Snazzy templates have never been Google’s thing, but it is easy to access and you don’t even have to sign in to a different account.

Now that your reader is taken care of, you need to add stuff in it. Sure, you can put in your best friend’s blog or that crazy drunk chick’s party adventures that is your guilty pleasure, but just like every book shelf needs to have its Kafka to balance out the Marian Keyes, you need some top quality blogs.

Fortunately, there are websites that will give you a listing of some of the most popular blogs being read these days. Look no further than Technorati’s top list (http://technorati.com/pop/blogs?faves=1) which will give you a comprehensive listing of the most highly visited websites the Internet has to offer. If you put at least ten of the 100 most popular blogs on your reader, you should know by visiting them often enough, how your blog can also be a super blog.

We all strive for perfection — or at least, we should — and it’s good to know where to start. I’ll see you guys at the closest phone booth, and then we’ll take over the world.

Meenakshi writes a blog at www.thecompulsiveconfessor.blogspot.com. You can send her your queries at meenakshimadhavan@gmail.com