Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Genealogy Feeders, Readers and Changes

One of the questions I often get is how do I keep up with all of the different Websites. There is a huge amount of information out there on the Internet and it can be daunting to try to follow even one limited topic like online genealogy. However, there are a number of Web tools that make following blogs and other Websites manageable.

The most useful of these online tools is a "Reader." Also known as a feed aggregator, feed reader, news reader or simply an aggregator, this is a program, usually free online, that collects headlines or summaries of Web content such as blogs, news services, and podcasts in a list or other format for easy review. To quote Wikipedia, "The aggregator provides a consolidated view of the content in a single browser display or desktop application. Such applications are also referred to as RSS readers, feed readers, feed aggregators, news readers, or search aggregators. Aggregators with podcasting capabilities can automatically download media files, such as MP3 recordings. In some cases, these can be automatically loaded onto portable media players (like iPods) when they are connected to the end-user's computer."

Most blogs and many other Websites, supply a link to an aggregator or reader in the form of RSS or other XML-formatted data, such as RDF/XML or Atom. You usually find the feed link somewhere on the page and by clicking on the link, you can subscribe to the feed.

In order to see the feed, you need to install a reader program. I use Google Reader but there are a number of other programs out there, such as, Feedburner, Yahoo!, and many, many others. See Wikipedia for a list.

I use Google Reader on my iGoogle homepage and get a list of feeds. I must admit that the list grows almost every minute, especially when you subscribe to as many feeds as I do. From time to time, I just erase everything, especially when the list gets over 100 and I don't have enough patience to look at every feed.

1 comment:

  1. You touched, in your last sentence, on one item of importance: We all need to learn to be selective and to weed through stuff, because there is an awful lot of stuff out there!

    I use Feed Demon on both my laptop and desktop machines, and am quite happy with it. I, too, often find myself hitting "Mark as read" on many items, because I just don't have time to read them all.

    Sometimes we just have to say, "Too much information!"