Giving thanks for RSS

RSS feed

This weekend, in lieu of shopping (shudder), I sampled a few Web services I hadn’t previously tried. One in particular stands out as the supreme timesaver: an RSS feed reader.

The first feed reader I tested, months ago, was bothersome. I couldn’t tell which feeds I’d added, I wasn’t sure it was private, and the thing was as slow as molasses. Instead of trying another service, I gave up. My mistake. When I think of all the time I’ve wasted surfing around to my favorite blogs one by one, I could kick myself.

If you haven’t tried a feed reader (also referred to as an aggregator or an RSS feed reader), you’ll discover it’s the equivalent of having the latest posts on all of the blogs you follow delivered to you, in a format that resembles an email inbox, while you’re not looking. All you need is a Web browser and a browser-based news reader or downloadable reader software.

Once you’ve set it up, you can check your RSS feed reader once or twice a day to see all of the activity on your favorite blogs at a glance. Each item is linked to its source, if you want to read the post in its original context. There’s no longer any need to check a long list of blogs individually, only to discover that most contain no new information.

News on Feeds provides a list of aggregators from which you can choose a feed reader to suit your needs.

The Open Directory Project also publishes a nicely organized list of feed readers.

I selected Google Reader, which recently shed its beta status. I already had a Google account for things like Gmail, which meant I didn’t need to register again. There might be a better feed reader out there, but Google Reader suits me perfectly. It’s currently handling two dozen news (that is, blog) feeds for me, and I’m thinking of adding a few more RSS feeds from traditional media such as BBC News.

[Updated on April 23, 2017] When Google Reader was shut down, I switched to Feedly, which is working well.

Unbelievably, I was in my thirties before I learned how easy it is to cook rice—another crazy example of not knowing what you’re missing.

Don’t waste another minute of your precious time. Get thee a feed reader. You’ll be thankful.

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