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RSS Discussion with Webgrrl of the Year

An evening talking about RSS.

I spent a lovely evening listening to Karin H√łegh tell a group of webgrrls this and that about RSS and feeds. (If you have never heard of RSS and feeds before, read the explanation on the BBC site, which I think is rather nice.) The talk (in Danish) covered how to subscribe to feeds, how to make them, how they can be used, and what impact they have on our use of the media in the future. All in all, a suitable topic for someone named Webgrrl of the Year!

A lot of the hard work setting up the feeds is taken care of in WordPress, so theoretically, I don’t have to do a thing on this blog. However, it is interesting to see how they can be tweaked. Examining those possibilities is part of my getting to know WordPress. One place to get some code under your fingernails like a good webgrrl is over at the RSS Advisory Board. Technology at Harvard Law has more information about RSS 2.0.

My take on RSS? I have always bookmarked favorite blogs or websites, but I rarely remembered to visit them on any regular or irregular basis. When did I have the time? I heard about this RSS thing from Lockergnome years ago, but I didn’t want to use some desktop application, which I sensed was a bit restrictive, and I did get stressed about yet another pile of information to absorb. Once I discovered Bloglines, a web-based tool for reading feeds, subscriptions seemed manageable. Of course, I still had to remember to log onto Bloglines! After talking with Allan Jenkins about coping with subscriptions to all these feeds, I realized I needed to clean out the ones that were really unnecessary in my world and then make the reading a part of my morning ritual, along with reading the newspaper (the paper one) with my breakfast. Then I discovered Google Reader. Bloglines is nice, but Google Reader has such a clean interface. . . I had to try out another of the toys coming out of Google’s Labs. For some reason, the clean interface makes me feel less overwhelmed by the lists. I also like the list view. For some reason, I am tricked into thinking I don’t have that much to look at, so I feel I can cope with the items that are listed. Silly, but it works.

All in all, I find that so far, I can keep up with the news or blog updates that interest me. Getting the news delivered in this fashion prevents me from getting too sidetracked with all the many links that are waiting out there to be explored.

And what about accessibility? The American Foundation for the Blind has an article about RSS and people with vision loss. Bloglines is their recommended aggregator (I am not sure that Google Reader existed when they wrote the article.) Read the article for more details.

(And on that note, I would like to say “Happy 1-month anniversary” to the blog!)

2 replies on “RSS Discussion with Webgrrl of the Year”

It’s interesting to see your post on RSS. I read a post once by Robert Scobel saying that he preferred Google Reader too. I have experimented with a variety of readers, but my personal favorite is the FeedDemon/Newsgator reader. It’s only drawback is that FeedDemon costs $30. However, FeedDemon rocks as a newsreader. It also includes FeedStation, which is a podcatcher. And it syncs with Newsgator, which is an online reader. When I’m at home, I use FeedDemon (it’s locally installed). But when I’m at work, I use Newsgator. When you update one, it updates the other.

I would be interested in seeing your OPML file of tech writing blogs/podcasts, if you want to share that.

Another thing I like about FeedDemon and Newsgator is that you can read blogs by site or by date. So if you have 30 blogs, you can read the posts that are current, rather than going one by one through the blogs. I think most newsreaders feature this, but it’s a good way of checking the blogosphere to see if there are any new posts.

By the way, you’re an awesome blogger. I am really enjoying your posts. Keep it up.

Tom

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