I find myself relying on traditional feed readers less and less these days (stream readers like TweetDeck and Seesmic have replaced them as an hourly habit). But when I do look at my feeds, I like to look at them through Feedly, which presents the stories in a visually appealing, magazine-like layout. Feedly is a Firefox plug-in that lets you import all of your blog and news feeds from Google Reader (or from your bookmarks, Netvibes, or Bloglines).
Today it will be releasing Feedly Explore, the latest version of its reader. The main new feature is an explore page which helps people discover new blogs to read by highlighting celebrity reading lists, staff picks, and sources based on popular tags.
You can also put in your own search term, and Feedly will deliver the most recent results from both your sources and other blogs, as well as YouTube, Flickr, Amazon, and Crunchbase. It also searches your Twitter and FriendFeed streams.
For any topic you search for, it also provides a list of “featured sources” which are the most authoritative blogs on the subject. And if you do a search from the new Explore page, you get a preview of the feed for each of the top sources, ranked by number of subscribers. It also tells you how many articles a week come out on that particular feed and how many recommendations it has. Any feed can be subscribed to with one click from within Feedly, of course.
The new discovery features are an added bonus, but the big draw for me remains the visual layout and Feedly’s ability to assemble it on the fly. It just makes the news easier to scan. Netvibes is doing similar things with turning feeds into something you actually want to read. The next step I’d like to see is some sort of alert, a glowing red button maybe, indicating different levels of hotness based on the attention any given story is getting both within these readers and elsewhere.