Lots of people I talk to, particularly people who read this blog, dont seem to know a lot about how to use feed readers, or even why one would want to use one. So here’s a basic guide to why people (including me) use feed readers, and basic how to.
When you visit a blog to check for new posts, you have to navigate to the page, often people have blogs bookmarked, so they can go straight to them, but just as often they dont. This kind of blog reading is fine, if you only want to read one or two blogs, but once you get deeper into the world of blogs, (and it doesnt take long) you will find there are lots of very interesting blogs out there, which are full of fascinating stuff, which you will want to read.
So you end up with a whole list of sites to visit, and you have to navigate to each one, to be honest it gets to be a pain. This is when the usefullness of feed readers begins to kick in.
With a feed reader, you have only the one page to look at. You go to that page, and it shows you a list of all the blogs you have subscribed to, and whether they have any new posts. Many bloggers post infrequently, and if you have to check their page all the time, only to find there are no new posts for days/weeks on end, it gets a bit wearing. But a feed reader will tell you at a glance if there are any new posts.
The picture above shows what my feed reader looks like at the moment, you can see that there are five unread feeds, all Treehugger (which produces upwards of 40 posts each day) and I can quickly scroll through them on the right hand panel, to see if there are any I want to read or not.
If I find it really interesting, and want to see what comments there are etc., I can quickly navigate to the blog site, and follow it from there.
How do you get a feed reader? I personally use the google reader, which is very simple. Simply create an account on google, using your email address and a password, then you can set up your reader. Once you have your account, you can either visit your favourite blogs and subscribe to them by clicking the rss logo on the site… Or you can simply use the add subscription panel in the feed reader and put the relevant url’s into the box.
I keep up with about fifty blogs, and most of them are generally pretty interesting. If I wanted to I am sure I could read even more widely, but I find that this gives me enough to be going along with 😉 If I didnt use a feed reader I would never be able to read them all.
I warmly reccomend you find a reader you are happy with, and then gentle reader, kindly subscribe to my feed… Any recomendations for good feed readers or handy tips for optimising the process are warmly welcomed.