Google Currents | A Game Changer?

What did I do today? I published a magazine, and you can download it on your iPhone, iPad, Android phone, or Android tablet. Still not impressed? The magazine is 100% sourced from my +Google+ feed (well, almost 100%, but we'll get to that in a sec). It's not just a dump of my public posts either (even though that would have been plenty cool enough) - it's a topical magazine, with a number of sections on a variety of subjects, with various different types of content (posts, videos, pictures, etc), all hand picked by me over the last few months.

Check it out: http://www.google.com/producer/editions/CAow2-Ms/caleb_hailey

Hashtags 2.0
"Wait, didn't Google Currents just come out the other day? How have you been curating content for it for months? Were you a beta tester +Caleb Hailey?" No, I wasn't, but I have tried to be an avid user of #hashtags (h/t to my favorite Google+ Page: +#hashtags ), which I've tried to use to categorize my posts, and Google Currents gives you some pretty powerful filtering controls for your content sources that let you take advantage of hashtags like never before... let me attempt to explain.

DISCLAIMER
I don't write. I'm not a publisher. Of anything. Not even a blog. I've tried for years to start and keep a blog, but I've never been able to keep up with it. I would like to, but it always falls apart. So, I know very little about the tools and platforms that exist for content creators.

Having said that, I should also add that I have only really just seen the tip of the iceberg that is Google Currents. I spent most of my afternoon poking around the Producer app ( www.google.com/producer ), but I was also distracted by the much anticipated Google TV 2.0 update for my Logitech Revue (more on this another day - I have a lot to say about that as well).

Google Currents | Producer
Along with the impressive release of the Google Currents app for Android & iOS, Google has also released a massive publishing platform that is very tightly integrated with the Googlverse of products - Google+, Picasa/Google Photos, YouTube, Google Docs, and probably a few others I'm forgetting. I'm not going to try to describe everything you can do in this platform, because as I said above, I'm no expert in this field. From what I can tell there are tools for collaborative editing and publishing, and for managing multiple publications from a single account - all cool, but I didn't play with any of that stuff. What I wanted to try to do was create my own custom version of the "Curator" feeds in Currents, and wow - the tools that are here to do this are awesome.

The first thing you need when you get started is a Section. Think of this like a topic, such as "Sports" or "Technology". From what I can tell you can make as many sections as you want (I created 6). A section can be sources from any one of the following:

RSS Feed - A section of posts dynamically pulled from a RSS or Atom feed.

Articles - A section of articles imported from Google Docs (!), Epub, or HTML.

Photos - A section of photos dynamically pulled from Flickr, Picasa Web, or any Media RSS feed.

Video Channel - A section of videos dynamically pulled from YouTube.

* Social Updates - A section of social updates from Google+ or other social RSS or Atom feeds.

WOW! There are a ton of options here. And every one that I tried lets you apply filters against the source, which is where our beloved #hashtags come in so handy. I have a habit of posting songs to my profile (yes, I'm that guy), and lately I've been tagging them with a #nowlistening hashtag; so I created a "Listening" section that was created using a "Social Updates" source (my Google+ feed) filtered for things with #nowlistening in them. I then tweaked that section to use the "Videos" layout. Oh, by the way - the Producer app gives you a ton of control over layout, etc, and you can have platform-specific layouts (!), so your same publication can look different on Android, Android Tablet, iPhone, and iPad.

My Magazine
In the end, I made at least one of every type of section except RSS Feed, and my magazine is composed of content from my Google+ Feed (different sections for different hashtags, such as #interests or #thoughts), my Google+ / Picasa photos (only those which I caption with #pub), my YouTube videos, and just to test it out, a section of more complex content composed in Google Docs - in case I want to create something really beautiful, or with more content than you can fit into a Google+ post.

So, now that I have this setup, I will be publishing hand-selected content from my Google+ stream to my very own magazine.

That, my friends, is pretty damn cool. I just became a magazine publisher. You can too!
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