Monday, April 25, 2011

Fun with RSS Feeds

It has come to my attention that relatively few of my friends use RSS feeds, so maybe NWF readers are in the same boat. I do not understand how you read blogs without them. Does your brain actually store the names and URLs of the dozen blogs you read?

My brain sure as heck doesn't, and also I am lazy, and also it's much more than a dozen blogs in my case. So, I pipe everything into an RSS reader, which stores and sorts all unread blog posts in one spot. You can get operating system-specific software to do this, but I prefer to use Google Reader.

Once you've decided on a reader, you can start adding RSS feeds to it. You can do this a couple of ways using Google Reader. One way is to look for the RSS symbol on a blog you like. You should see one on the right side of this very page; it's a small orange rectangle with three white arcs in it. You can choose to receive updates when there are new posts ("Posts") or whenever a new comment appears. If you click on it, your browser will try to figure out where you want it to go. Firefox has no trouble adding things to my Google account. The second method is to do so from within Google Reader.

If you read a lot of stuff on a variety of topics, it may become useful to subdivide your feeds into categories ("Feminism", "Fashion", "Humor", "Tech", etc.) If you have a mobile device, you may want to get an app; I use Reeder on my iPad and ReadItLater for things I want to read again and again.

I mention this because it is, of course, a good way to get the latest Nth Wave Feminism posts. But I really find it most useful for blogs that are updated infrequently or irregularly, or ones for which it takes longer to type the URL than read the material, like webcomics. Without RSS feeds, I would drive myself nuts checking for new material written by the funniest person on the internet, but, as it is, I can instead be pleasantly surprised when a new post from her shows up in my feed reader.

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