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

Friday, May 24, 2013

GenVines - a new genealogical news aggregator about online collections

I received an email today from my friend, Janell Vasquez, about her new news aggregator program targeted at the Online Record Collection News called More about the program a little later in this post, but first I need to explain news aggregators.

News aggregators or readers, as they are commonly called, have been in the news lately with the move by Google to discontinue it Reader program. This move has already opened up new possibilities for other programs to step up and take over the job of aggregating the news. Additionally, there is a need for specialized aggregators to provide content to those with specialized needs. Technically, a news aggregator can do its job without becoming a reader program. Although the two are almost identical in their function, a reader is designed to allow the user the option of selecting the sources or feeds they wish to aggregate.

Simply, a news aggregator is an online program that searches the web for specific content and provides the user with a stream of updated headlines about a certain topic or from a particular source, that can can be expanded into connections with the original content. The reason behind this type of program is obvious, it can be extremely time consuming to individually review websites for updated content. Let's say you want to read a particular blog or want to keep informed about a particular topic. Searching the web or clicking on links to all the sites you want to follow could become impossible. But by using a news aggregator or reader program, that type of activity not only become possible, it keeps all of that news from becoming overwhelming.

This whole process is enabled by a feed reader. The most commonly used program is referred to as an RSS Feed. RSS is an acronym with several different interpretations, usually it is said to signify "Really Simple Syndication." Syndication is an old news term that implies the aggregation of news stories into one consolidated outlet. There are a host of news aggregation programs and there was flurry of activity in rearranging the use of these programs due to Google's announcement of the demise of Reader. The process of connecting to the RSS feed is called subscribing to the feed. Once you subscribe in the reader, any additions or changes show up in your stream or list of changes.

When Google made its announcement, I had already moved to another program. I presently use the most popular feed reader alternative, I presently follow over 200 separate blogs and websites using Feedly. But if you are a news hog like me, you never seem to get enough. I am always missing something. This is where a program such as comes in. I can subscribe to and add that to my reader and then I get the benefit of all of the syndication from's sources. Voila! More concentrated news on a specific subject I am totally interested in learning about, that is, new genealogical collections. Fortunately, unlike some websites and blogs, makes the process of adding their site to your RSS feed obvious and simple.

Many websites also give you the option of adding notifications to your email stream. Unfortunately, this is the case with sites such as, Google+ and With just those two sites, my email traffic has gone out of sight. I am getting dozens of emails a day. I will have to look into an alternative to getting so much email or start cutting off contact from those websites.

I immediately found useful news from that I had missed in all my feeds. This will undoubtedly become a useful way to watch the huge amount of data going online every day. Take a look at


  1. Thanks, James, glad you found something useful! :)

  2. I like this site already. Thanks for telling about it.

  3. Thanks James for the recommendation and for the explanation about Readers and how they work. I found it very informative.