Shared items from Google ReaderWordPress has evolved quite a lot in the past couple of years, and the simplest way to discover just how much is to create a free blog at WordPress.com. Yes, absolutely free.

One of the great features that’s often overlooked on these sites is the ability to add your Shared Items from Google Reader to your blog’s sidebar. This is a quick way of ensuring a regular supply of fresh content for your blog, with no more effort required than a SHIFT-S whenever you spot something interesting in Reader.

To set this up will only take a couple of minutes :

  • Open up the WordPress admin for your site, as well as Google Reader (either in separate tabs or separate windows).
  • In the WordPress admin window, go into the Presentation -> Sidebar Widgets menu. Here you can customise your sidebar by dragging the boxes from the ‘Available Widgets’ area onto the ‘Sidebar’ area, and pressing the ‘Save Changes’ button.
  • Add an RSS widget, by dragging it onto the sidebar. If this is your first RSS widget it will be labelled ‘RSS 1’; the second will be ‘RSS 2’ and so on.
  • In the Google Reader window, click on the ‘Shared items’ link in the upper left. In the upper right of the following screen will be the text ‘(and there’s a feed too)’.
  • Copy the address linked in the ‘a feed’ part of this text (usually via a right click, and something like ‘copy link location’), and switch back to the WordPress Admin window.
  • In the ‘RSS 1’ box in the sidebar, click the image at the box’s right. Paste the copied address (from Google Reader) in the ‘Enter the RSS feed URL here:’ section. The ‘Give the feed a title’ box controls the text that appears in your site’s sidebar just above the Shared Items.
  • Change the ‘How many items’ number if desired, and press the ‘X’ in the box’s upper right to close it.
  • Click the ‘Save Changes’ button to update your sidebar.

Now each time you share an item in Google Reader (and the quickest way to do this is to hit SHIFT-S when you read something interesting), it will automatically appear in your sidebar. Just reload the page.

NB : to see what this looks like, take a look at the ‘In the news’ section on the front page of this site.

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