Web Feed Icon
Wow! The question was really down to Earth and interesting, and you just had to throw a couple of technical phrases no casual user of the net might understand. Don’t worry, getting stuff delivered to your home in the real world is just as receiving web feeds to your digital home in the digital world (the web). This means you already know what I am going to talk about, i.e. “getting stuff delivered to your home”.
How it is delivered...
There are three key elements here: (1) The stuff – what is being delivered to your home; (2) The Messenger – who is delivering the stuff; and (3) The Home – where the stuff gets delivered. Examples of the stuff you might receive include magazines, newspaper, mail from your friends, articles you purchased, food, etc. Examples of the Messenger you might receive stuff from include the mailman, the hardware store, the delivery guy, the newspaper boy, yourself, etc. Examples of the home you might received stuff at, include your house, your vacation house/apartment, your mailbox store, your post office, etc.
The point here is that there are many ways to get many things to many places. When you turn on your computer and you open your browser or Outlook, you probably go to a dozen places to get all the information you want to see. You go to Outlook, Gmail or Yahoo to view your e-mail. You go to Facebook you see your friends feeds, news feed, photo feed or status feeds. You go to Twitter to see your friends Tweets. You go to CNN, Fox News, BBC, SI, Yahoo News or ESPN to read what happened today. You came to this site to read this blog. If you could see most of these at one place it would really be convenient. This post is about receiving most of the information you want, all these web feeds, to read at one place, a feed reader.
Figuer 3 - The Messenger - Web Feeds File Formats
In order to get media delivered to your home, you need to let somebody know. You need to subscribe to magazine or a newspaper to get it at home. In the digital world, the same needs to happen. Once your are subscribed, the information (the stuff) can be delivered. The messenger in the digital world is the web feed. As in the real world, we don’t really care who delivers the stuff. The important thing is it gets there. For information purposes, the messenger in the digital world are the web feeds file formats. RSS was the original. Sounds technical and yet it means Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary. The most recent is Atom which is an open source format and is supposed to correct some RSS deficiencies.
The thing to notice is the web feed icon (figure 3). Many websites that constantly publish new posts are now syndicated. That means they allow you to subscribe to the content and will have a web feed icon. You can set it up to receive the information from the site, the feed, to your “digital home”, or feed reader, automatically.
Netvibes is a web-based feed reader.
That takes us to the last element, the feed reader. Once you “subscribe” to a web page that is ready for web feeds, the feed reader will automatically gather the new posts available in all the web sites you have set-up and present them to you. Instead of opening every single website, you only open your feed reader and enjoy your favorite readings.
What else you need to know about feed reader before you go and get one? Just that they are either a desktop or web-based program. Many good options are free. The feed reader I am using is Google Reader and I’m trying Netvibes next. The following is a list of other feed readers. Please go to the additional readings sections below for links with feed reader lists.
- Google Reader (Web-based)
- Netvibes (Web-based)
- FeedDemon (Desktop)
- BlogBridge (Desktop)
- My Yahoo (Web-based)
- NewzCrawler (Desktop, not free!)
- Omea Reader (Desktop)
Now that I’ve convinced you to get a feed reader (hopefully) and enjoy all your favorite stuff in one place, follow the next section steps. It will be easier to stay informed and to stay in touch.
How to Set-Up Your “Deliveries”
- Choose your feed reader. Decide if you are going to use a desktop or web-based feed reader. Follow the link and download or open an account. I’m sure you will find tours and instructions for every feed reader. That’s the best way to get to know them.
- Go to your favorite sites and subscribe. Go to your favorite sites and look for the web feed icon or links with the words RSS, Atom, XML or web feed. Click a the button or link. This will take you to the feed page. Copy the address and input it into your feed reader. Repeat this steps until you subscribe to all the sites you’re interested in.
- Enjoy everything you need delivered to your “home”!.