For several years now, I have managed my RSS feeds by using bloglines. Bloglines is pretty good – but this won’t mean anything if you just thought ‘what’s an RSS feed?’
Many sites now have an link which is friendly for computers. This is called an RSS feed (or an ‘atom’ feed – the differences aren’t important). An RSS ‘aggregator’ is a program which can sit on your computer, or it can be a website which you log into, which monitors the RSS feeds you have subscribed to and then brings all that info together in one spot. It’s like an email inbox for the web. You don’t have to monitor all your favourite sites for changes, you just monitor the aggregator and all the changes appear there. This site has it’s own RSS feed, as does most sites, from the BBC to xkcd, Yehuda Moon and WWdN.
You can often tell if a site has a feed by spotting this icon (it might be in the address bar).
This site also has feeds for comments left on the site.
Some websites don’t advertise the feeds, but if you put the address of the site into your feed reader, it can sometimes find the feed for you. (Remember though that not all sites have feeds).
Anyhow, as I mentioned, for some time I’ve been using bloglines. I’ve just moved over to Google Reader. (This was a simple job, involving ‘exporting’ my existing subscriptions from bloglines and then importing them to Reader).
Reader has some nice features. One of my favourites is ‘sharing’. If I see something I like, I can ‘share’ it. People who have me as a contact can see my ‘shared’ items if they use Reader. An RSS feed (surprise!) is also generated, and people can subscribe to this by copying the link and pasting it into their aggregator, and a webpage is generated too.
Another nice feature is that you can use a ‘bookmarklet’ to ‘share’ any item you find on the web. A bookmarklet is something that you add to your browser bookmarks, and it does stuff when you click on it.
This is pretty good, and has the capability of replacing some of the functionality of the excellent del.icio.us. Although, I think I’ll be using del.icio.us for quite some time still. “What is del.icio.us?” I hear you cry (well, possibly think).
It’s what’s called a ‘social bookmarking site’.
Essentially you have some ‘bookmarklets in your browser, and when you find a site you’d like to bookmark, you click the bookmarklet and it is added to del.icio.us.
Using ‘tags’ will allow you to find the site again. The nice thing is that you can search the site for tags added by other people (and yes, you can make sites you bookmark private to conceal some of your more esoteric tastes).
My bookmarks are here, and the eagle eyed might notice that there is a feed for the bookmarks (at least, for the public ones).
Del.icio.us also features something called an ‘inbox’. If I see a link that I think a friend might like, I can tag it as for:friend. E.g. someone who spots a link I might like can tag it for:murkee – and it will appear in my inbox – my inbox is private, but it too has its own RSS feed which I can subscribe to.
I don’t even have to remember the login names for my contacts to send them a link, as I can ‘add them to my network’ and it will remember them for me, and I can send a link to their inbox my clicking their name when I bookmark. It’s simple to add someone to your network (must be logged in).
I hardly ever visit del.icio.us itself, though I use it daily. My inbox is monitored via Reader, and I use handy buttons on my browser to search the bookmarks if I want to find a link again. It’s really nice.
The big advantage of all this is that wherever I go, I can find my bookmarks. I can keep up to date on sites I like to read. It’s good. (I also have a script which regularly backs up all my bookmarks by downloading, you guessed it, an RSS feed).