gRegorLove little g big R

feeds? aggre-whatter?

Today I'm going to write an introduction to feeds, aggregators and why I think it's worth your while to use them. Don't worry, this will be written in english, not in geek. :-]

Definitions

A feed is simply a format for syndicating a web site's content. You will often see feeds referred to as “RSS” or “Atom”, the two most common types of feeds.

An aggregator is a program that can automatically retrieve this syndicated content... aggregating it all into one spot. An example that you might already be familiar with is Xanga's “Read Your Subscriptions” page. The advantage of the aggregators I am referring to is that they can gather content from any number of sites and aren't limited to a single site like Xanga or Myspace. This is why I think it's worth your while; you can keep up with any number of sites in a much more efficient manner.

Getting started

You don't even have to download anything to get started; there are a variety of free, online aggregators that you can use. I recommend Google Reader. If you have Gmail, you can just login with the same username and password, otherwise you'll need to create a Google account first. Once logged in, the interface is pretty easy. At the top of the page you can enter the address of the feed you want to subscribe to and click “Search for new content”. You should be presented with a preview of the feed contents along with a subscribe button. Why not try it out with my feed? :-] http://gregorlove.com/xml-rss2.php

Finding feeds

Most web sites offer feeds, including the major weblog sites and news sites. If you see a button labeled “RSS”, “Atom”, or “XML” on a web site, that is a link to their feed. Copy that link into the aggregator and you'll start receiving the content automatically. On Xanga the feeds are at http://www.xanga.com/username/rss. On MySpace when you view someone's blog, in the upper right you should see an link titled “rss”.

More?

There's some cool features of Google Reader that I did not touch on here. There was a short videocast of its features that I was going to link to, however that web site currently appears to be offline. Hopefully it comes back online soon and I can post a link to it; if not I might make another post about Google Reader.

Hopefully this was helpful to you. Let me know if you have any questions.

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Responses

BurnDark BurnDark
I use Bloglines (http://www.bloglines.com). Same concept, just a different interface


I decided to try it out for the purposes of this post, but can't really say I like the interface or functionality so far. GR has a much simpler interface and functions a lot more easily IMO.

Chrissy Chrissy
I'm learning about RSS, and tried http://www.feedvalidator on my xanga but it complained like hell... also about the feed on your site. Just wondering how relevant do you think these validors are?

Chrissy Chrissy
oops... that's feedvalidator.org ofcourse

Chrissy Chrissy
Doh... I see this is no longer in Xanga


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