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RSS – Feeds – Readers and software

August 2, 2016

Software wants to connect to things.  People who write things want others to see them, people want things delivered to them.  People no longer want to have to go and get things, they want them delivered.  These are just a few high level concepts.  If I have to explain to people about feeds and RSS and feed readers, then I need to be very conversant in them.

One of my fav. political sites, Real Clear Politics is a reader, an aggregator – a collector of feeds from many places.  I go there to see all the different news items that have been pushed to RCP by feeds that RCP choose.  I can go to RCS and consume my news.  One place.

RSS: Making Information Come to You: Popular Feeds

My son likes Reddit – its the same thing.  An aggregator, a reader a “feed reader”.  It, Reddit, subscribes to lots of feeds and present a neat interface to all that data that is being pushed to it by feeds.  That is the evolution of a feed reader.  How it presents its feed data to the consumer.  Maybe 10 years ago when RSS technology was new – it was enough just to aggregate or collect data from lots of sources in one place.  Show the data as links or a list.  Fine.  But now, its not nearly enough.  People have come to expect data to be organized in clever meaningful ways, to control what they see and how they see it.

I think Facebook is one big fat aggrigator.  It displays information that is being pushed to it all the time by your friends.  Your friends are your feeds.  When you friend them, they become a feed that pushes notifications to you and vice versa.  But, I digress.

This conversation started when someone asked me, why are there sometimes the orange symbols on web pages.  Specifically, in a CMS that we are considering upgrading to.  They said, “why do some pages have the icons and others not?”.  I explained that some of the pages contain things like a blog or a forum or a list and they, the blog, forum or list app in the software, WANT to CONNECT to things.  They want to push their information out to other software.  They are feeds.  When you see one on a page – you have the option to *follow it by subscribing to it.  If you follow it, then you get to tell it where you want its notifications to come to.  In other words, if you choose to follow a feed, it needs to know where to report the feed information to.  That is called a reader or aggrigator.  The CMS we are considering, SS SchoolWires has a concept of a *dashboard where feeds can be streamed.  This supports the idea of a *data driven dashboard where all the information that you want comes to.  Get it?  If you want to get notified when the boss enters a new blog entry or someone reply’s to a conversation you are in on a forum or someone puts a big on an item you have on the intranet – well, you can push all those *notifications to one place – your data dashboard.

A few years ago, I subscribed to a few different feeds, mainly because I wanted to experiment with different readers as much as I actually cared about the information being reported – but, alas, that tool got a little stale.  I did not keep up with checking my readers.  I guess then I would be a good candidate for a single stop reader.  Think about the home page of say Yahoo or other social media programs – they all have this idea of a *one stop shopping for all your news needs.

Check out the information about popular Feed Readers (aggregators) from wikipedia.

I used to use Mozilla Firefox, alot, and I set up a few feeds in it, like one to Ravi Zacharias Internation ministries.  I have a menu option where the items pushed by the RZM feed appear.

Figuring out what feeds are worth following is a HUGE task.  There are so many feeds available and your own interest will change over time.  Start small – pic a few – then actually go to your reader and consume them.  Be faithful about doing this.  Over time, you will realize that feed x blows and feed y is really good.  Or vice versa.  Give yourself time to consider them.  Find a couple topics that you are interested in , find out who creates good news, information around that, and subscribe to their feed.  Simply go to their website, find the feed icon, click on it and choose the reader you use.  Its not always that simple, but if you have the idea down, you can work through the minutia of subscribing to a feed – its a lot easier than it used to be!

Here are a couple perspectives on finding *good sites to subscribe to.

A good way to measure this is to look at what the popular feed readers report about popular feeds.  Like bloglines, for example – there list of popular feeds is more relevant than Joe Blows list of feeds, you dig?

This is a good topical arrangement of popular feeds – with a global twist.


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