Bloglines September 10, 2006
You probably enjoy reading blogs. I am taking a guess that since you found your way here, you are into the blogosphere (i have been wanting to use that word for a while). If you have been hanging out in blogland long enough you probably have a growing list of blogs to keep track of. And if that list is getting oppresively long, there are a few things out there to help you.
Most blog software publishes a ‘RSS Feed‘ every time the author updates their page. This is a simple version of the page that allows you to passively keep track of updates. Both the Firefox and Safari browsers let you know if the site you are looking at has a feed associated with it. Safari puts an icon in the right side of the address bar , and so does firefox but it looks like this . Since these browsers both have RSS Feed Readers built into them, you can create ‘live bookmarks’ that let you know when the page has been updated.
But it gets better. There are online services that help you keep track of your subscriptions, and offer numerous other features as well. My favorite is bloglines. After you sign up (for free of course), you can put a little bookmark in your bookmark bar that allows you to quickly subscribe to the page you are viewing. you can organize your pages in folders of similar subject, and also choose if they will be public or private (for your eyes only).
Bloglines isn’t just for blogs. you can add anything with a RSS feed. These days that includes searches from google, package tracking pages (know where you newly ordered yarn is at all times), and best of all…. Flickr. I could go on and on about the beautiful marriage between flickr and bloglines, but i think i will save that for my next post….
So what to do once you have a list of pages…. just wait, and when they are updated by their authors they will show up in bold. when you click on it, it displays the feed on the right side of the page. Some people (like me) publish their entire post into their feed, and others publish a short summary. you can click through the links and the page will politely open in a new window. you can also see how many other bloglines users are subscribed to the same feed, and if it is public, you can see who they are.
i can’t forget to tell you about my favorite feature of all…. Bloglines will supply you with code to insert into your webpage that lists all of your public subscriptions in a given folder. That is how I generate the lists of webpages on the sidebar of this blog. it is like blogrolling, but has the nice capability for you tick on and off the public label to prevent you webpage list from growing as long as your bloglines list. and you can have multiple lists like mine for “Bloggers I Know” and “Knitting Blogs”
oh wait, did I already say something was my favorite feature? That was a lie, because the bloglines ‘blog’ feature is my favorite. At the bottom of every post in every feed there is a little ‘Clip/Blog this’ link. If i see something I want to remember, or be able to find easily, I click the link and publish the link to my bloglines blog. I don’t really intend for it to be public, just for myself, but if you want to see what i mean, you can check it out here.
Some people aren’t too fond of using RSS feeds to track blogs. Sometimes it gets a little impersonal to look at the feeds only. they don’t show the nice fonts and colors that the author has created. But I primarily use it to let me know when things have been updated, and also get the added bonuses of marking posts i want to find later, and also list links on my webpage.
I know there are a few other services like this (newsgator for example). I commited to bloglines early on and have been pretty pleased. Do you use something different? How does it compare?