Tuesday, June 21, 2005

How do I read your blog?

The simple answer is, visit this site. Frequently.

But that gets old real quick. Who can remember to check a site again and again? And sometimes when you visit there's nothing new, and other times there's a flood of too much stuff. Eventually you just forget about it and stop visiting.

That's why we have syndication. Syndication allows me to post whenever and whatever I want. It allows you to see only what's new whenever you want. You can preview the new content, and in many cases read it completely, without visiting the blog website. You can browse new posts by title and date. And when you see something you like, you can jump to the blog to see it exactly as I want it to look.

There are many ways to subscribe to a feed and many desktop programs and websites that support feeds. Many email programs support feeds. Firefox, Opera, and other web browsers support them. Bottom feeder? Feed burner? I don't really know which desktop clients are better than others because I don't use them.

I use web sites that let me read all my subscriptions. Using a web service is nice because you can view your feeds from any web enabled screen, and you can view all your subscriptions from one screen. There are two services I can recommend: Bloglines.com and Rojo.com.

Bloglines is what got me so deep into blogs. I have about 100 subscriptions at any given time. With bloglines I can visit one site and see them all. I can see each subscription individually or I can sort them into directories and see a summary line for the whole directory. You can browse my public subscriptions here, but that does not give you a true feel for how you browse and read your own subscriptions. Being able to see who's posted and browse the titles of new posts makes it possible to follow many blogs easily.

Rojo.com is newer, and takes a different approach. I have not spent as much time there as at bloglines, but I find it very interesting. Rojo works with tags, which allow you to sort your feeds into categories. It also allows you to browse posts from your feeds and from other Rojo users by keywords or tags. They also put new posts on a common timeline, and make it easy to see what's new among all your feeds.

Its funny how blog publishing is so easy and so suddenly popular, it seems like there are more people who know how to publish a blog than there are people who know how to effectively read a blog. The media is evolving and changing rapidly. Yet with services like bloglines and now rojo, its also getting more mature and more useful for all web surfers.

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