Monday, April 27, 2009

Really Simple Syndication

Until today, I've been reading other people's blogs the old fashioned way (apparently). On finding a really good blog, I just clicked "add to favourites". There is was on my list, ready to be visited.

A few months ago, I attended a Baha'i blogging seminar in which I was advised that it was 'polite', in blogging terms, to add an RSS button to my page. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. Clicking the RSS button allows readers to receive my blog as a feed through their subscription service, rather than having to go through the hassle of actually visiting the website.

So I did it - added the button. Then I carried on with my blogging life as before.

In the months since, I have notcied the number of people reading my blog through RSS steadily increasing, to the point where as many people read it this way as have been visiting directly. (This blog's typical daily readership is 50 or 60 - a small circulation, perhaps. But I feel humbled and grateful that anyone would choose to read it.)

I clearly need to find out what the reading experience is like for those accessing Author Intrusion through subscription. Time for me to make the switch in my own reading habits.

This morning I took the plunge, signed up and started subscribing to some of my favourite blogs. I don't really know what I am doing yet, and it is bewildering. I was confused by the number of services through which I could access syndicated material. Google seems to be the big one. I may need to sample my feeds through that route as well, but instinctively veered towards one of its competitors, Bloglines. (Perhaps I have been put off by the whole Google book copyright fiasco.)

So... as with all these thing, any advice would be appreciated. And I'll let you know how I get on.


Mosher said...

Horses for coursed, Rod. I've been reading your blog via RSS for ages now. Blogger/Blogspot automatically publishes an RSS feed for you even if you don't put a link directly on the page.

I don't know how it works in Internet Explorer (or Safari or Opera or...) but in Firefox if a page has an RSS feed then it puts an icon in the address bar. Click on that and you're asked what you want to use to subscribe to the feed and away you go.

There are loads of things you can use. IE, I think, has a feed reader/subs manager. So does Outlook. And a load of other mail programs.

There are standalone readers, too.

I've gone for Google's offering simply as it's online (with an option for it to drag the posts "offline" for you). As I spent the last 3 years travelling and swapping from laptop to mates' machines to cybercafes, this was the sensible option for me.

The interface isn't wonderful but it does everything I need. Categorisation, mass "mark as read", brief synopses... all there.

My only quibble is with some sites that only publish the headline or a few lines, meaning I still have to visit the site to read a whole post. Grr. This happens regardless of your reader and is up to them. I can understand it in some instances as they gain advertising revenue from sidebar adverts... which I don't see anyway as I have ad-blockers installed.

Hey ho.

Welcome to the future :)

Mosher said...

[quick follow up as I forgot to subscribe to the comments]

Rod Duncan said...

Thanks Mosher,

A steep learning curve for me!


Katy said...

Alas, I follow blogs in the old fashioned way. But perhaps it is RSS of a sort - new pages of blogs I'm following show up in a window on my Blogger dashboard page. And then I click on the blog page :-)

Thanks for the info Rod,


Rod Duncan said...

Thanks katy,

I feel very ignorant in this area. And today I ventuerd into the arena of twitter as well.

I should know better!