November 4, 2007

Puttin' on the feed bag

(RSS feed, that is)

There are times I can be downright geeky. For several years, I was the one people came to at the Hungarian Press Agency's Econews when they had a problem with Microsoft Windows. But there are times I can be nearly Luddite in my resistance to adopting new technologies, especially if I suspect there's some evil, hidden capitalist agenda behind it. Only fools try something just because it's new.

And that's the way it was between me and RSS technology. For years now I've seen links on pages offering "feeds" of various content. "Sure," I thought, "like I need more stuff cluttering up my life. It probably involves getting lots of spam and getting placed on lists of idiots who do things like send in Reader's Digest contest entries."

I also knew it had something to do with what, in the golden era of Netscape (long ago, in a galaxy far, far away...) was referred to as "push technology." Wow, was that ever a flop. Another idea the world and the Scribbler just weren't ready for. "No thank you," I proudly said, "I can go looking for the stuff I want. I don't need to have it delivered to me."

And then I became a blogger.

When you configure your blog, among the settings are the settings for your feeds. I got to wondering what this was all about. Then I noticed the links on my blog for feeds. Hmmm. How does this work? I kept wondering what a reader would see and experience if they subscribed to a feed of my blog. For that matter, if it would even work.

And besides that, part of the blogging game (and I'm sure I'm not telling most of you anything new) involves reading other blogs. It makes sense. Novelists read novels. Journalists read newpapers and magazines, and bloggers read other blogs. It's just part of learning how to do it. And, of course, one needs to understand that blogging is a social activity, not just a solitary craft.

The long and the short of it: bloggers read (or should read) blogs.

So I went to a friend's blog and subscribed. Due to the fact that I've been a Google person ever since I got my first invitation to G-mail three years ago (I'm a Google whore: I use G-mail, Blogger, Page Creator, Analytics, Google Documents, Google Talk...), setting up the feed with Google Reader was absurdly easy. Hmmm. The research I'd read about RSS said it can save time for people who regularly check certain websites to see if there's new information. Hmmm.

So I subscribed to all the blogs I read. And you know what? I, er, have to admit. It's saving me time. I just open my feed reader, and it shows me which blogs have new postings, and I can read them right there. If I want to comment, one keystroke takes me to their blog. Amazing. No more clicking around on links and waiting for blogs to load, only to find out there's nothing new.

Now I still think you'd have to be crazy to subscribe to a feed of something like CNN. Your reader would be full-to-groaning with new stuff all the time. But for the conscientious blogger, I have to admit this is a good tool.

Not to say that it isn't a good thing to be a bit Luddite sometimes.


Henitsirk said...

Hmmm...I think the machine ate my comment.

I too am on the feed-wagon. It's so much easier. Unfortunately it also seems to have made me much more impatient for new posts.

And I'm fully entrenched in Googleland, with Blogger, iGoogle, Google Maps, Google Reader, etc. Even after reading "Scroogled" by Cory Doctorow.

vero said...

You could get paid for this post, why work for free?? (Just kidding ;))
I'll go try it! :D

katarashop said...

Great post. I especially found it useful where you stated ...

what you can to be my friend?
please add my link into your blogroll

best regards