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

Friday, September 16, 2016

Using Smart Technology to Jump-Start Your Genealogical Research: Part Seven

News aggregator programs that keep you informed of posts to blogs and other websites

Listening to the news can be addictive. But listening to news on the Internet can be like standing in front of a fire hose. As people begin to become interested in their family history, they may also become aware that there is a larger, even world-wide, genealogical community and surprisingly there is a lot of genealogical news. For example, made an announcement in September of 2016, that they had added 33 million Finnish Church records to their website. Perhaps you are not interested is this event, or maybe you are, but it does illustrate the need for some way to find out this type of information and organize it so you are not overcome with the amount of information available.

There are programs called aggregators or feed reader programs that subscribe to websites and then organize any newly posted articles in a format that lets you easily determine whether or not you want to further explore the articles. Aggregators simplify regularly reviewing a number of websites, blogs or other online sources. They come in a variety of types such as the following list from the Wikipedia article "Aggregator" 
  • Poll aggregator, a website that aggregates polling data for upcoming elections
  • Review aggregator, a website that aggregates reviews of movies or other products or services
  • Search aggregator, software that runs on a user's computer and fetches, filters, and organizes a specific search from various search engines
  • Social network aggregation, the collection of content from multiple social network services
  • Video aggregator, a website that collects and organizes online video sources
  • News aggregator, a computer software or website that aggregates news from other news sources
  • Shopping aggregator, a website that aggregates retail products from numerous retailers' websites
  • Insurance aggregator, a website that enables consumers to receive multiple insurance quotes from policy providers, and subsequently purchase a suitable quote
As a genealogist, you may not be interested in all of these types of aggregators, but essentially "keeping up" with the genealogical community falls into the "news aggregator" function. To avoid being confused, you need to also realize that the word "aggregator" is used in a variety of contexts, many having nothing to do with computers or the Internet. There is an extensive list of feed aggregators on Wikipedia that lists more than a hundred such websites or services. 

The basic way these feed readers or aggregators work is that the particular program you use has some method to "subscribe" to various blogs or websites. In many of these programs, when you open you list, you see updates from each of your subscribed websites. Here is a screenshot of this type of list from a program called

By reviewing the list of topics shown, I can quickly determine if I want to open the full article and read any more about the subject. There are so many feed readers or aggregators out there that there is no way to suggest any one program. As with many types of programs, there are reviews and you should search online for "feed readers aggregators reviews" and you will see a number of articles comparing the features of various possible programs. 

Here are the previous posts in this series.

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