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What is an RSS Aggregator or RSS Reader?


I keep hearing about RSS, XML and RSS feeds. I just barely have a clue what they are, but when people then start talking about RSS aggregators, what are they talking about and why would I want one? Do you use an aggregator, and if so, which one?

Ain't jargon fun? RSS is Really Simple Syndication and it's a simple data-only version of a Web page or, in the case of a weblog, Web site. Why is that interesting? Because it's then easy to write programs that track this XML formatted data stream and let you know when there's new material added to the site.

For example, if you were tracking the Ask Dave Taylor RSS data stream then when this article "went live" on my site, you'd receive notification and be able to read it within minutes of it arriving. Maybe not so critical for my tech and business Q&A, I admit, but I also track a number of different business newswires and was reading about the Proctor & Gamble acquisition of Gillette at least a day prior to my colleagues. How do I know that? Because they've told me that it was my own article on the subject (P&G buys Gillette for $57 billion, but how much is that in human terms?) that alerted them to the $54 billion transaction).

Helpful Hint: If you'd like to track an RSS feed and you have a browser with RSS support, you can click on the cute little XML button you find on many different Web sites. If your browser doesn't know what to do with that and instead shows you a cryptic page of text, you'll need an RSS reader or aggregator. Keep reading, but remember that you can also "right click" (or Ctrl-click for you Mac folks) and copy the link address to your buffer, then paste it into a 'subscribe' field in your reader.

The problem is, I don't want to check 100 RSS feeds any more than I want to visit 100 Web sites every day, and that's where aggregators come in. Whether they're standalone programs, plug-ins for your favorite Web browser or email program, or Web-based services, RSS aggregators remember your subscription list, check each site on a periodic basis, and alert you to any new articles that have been published.

If you're not thinking "wow, very cool" then you are spending too much time visiting Web sites! To scan the headlines of just a dozen sites on an hourly basis would probably be a full time job and if you need to keep abreast of your industry, as I do, then you wouldn't have any time to actually do anything, which would obviously be deleterious to your career long-term! :-)

So there are programs you can download that are RSS aggregators (or RSS readers, basically synonymous) for Windows, Mac and Linux/Unix systems. A few of the most popular are BlogExpress and FeedReader for Windows, NetNewsWire and NewsFire for Macintosh and Lifera for Linux.

Don't like having yet another application running? You can graft RSS capabilities into your Web browser (or run Firefox or Safari / Tiger, both of which have elegant built- in RSS capabilities) or your email program. Notable entries in this category are NewsGator (grafts into Microsoft Outlook on Windows), Pluck (grafts into Microsoft Internet Explorer on Windows) and Safari Menu (add-on for Apple's Safari browser that includes some RSS support).

Finally, you can subscribe to an RSS aggregator Web service which gives you a custom Web page that includes the newest information from your hand-picked RSS feeds. The highest profile solution to this is My Yahoo, which recently announced support for RSS feeds as additional personal home page information sources, though it just shows you a rolling 'latest five articles' from each source, so it doesn't work for me because I'd still be left trying to remember which I'd read or not. Other possibilities include AmphetaDesk, Bloglines, and Feedster.

Instead of those, however, I use a great Web-based product called NewsGator Online, which gives me the ability to track as many feeds as I like (fellow blogger Robert Scoble tracks over 1200 in his NewsGator Online account) along with the flexibility of keeping in sync at home, in my office and on the road.

Whichever solution you choose, I promise you that once you start traveling down the road of RSS feeds and RSS aggregators, you won't turn back. In fact, you'll find that every time you go to a Web site that you like, you'll immediately start hunting for the "syndicate" or "rss" or "xml" button. i certainly do, and I'm more plugged in now than I could ever have been in the past.

It's a rolling sea of information out there, and an RSS aggregator gives you a sail and GPS navigation system. It might just save your life out there!

Dave Taylor has been involved with the blogging community for years and is widely respected as an expert on business blogging, among other areas.


TODAYS NEWS BY OFFICEJAX FREE ADVERTISING AND AD EXCHANGE SOLUTIONSMORE RESOURCES updated Tue. June / 15 / 2021

A community guide to understanding refinery flares - Richmond Standard
A community guide to understanding refinery flares  Richmond Standard

Twitter restores verified blue tick of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s personal account - Hindustan Times
Twitter restores verified blue tick of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s personal account  Hindustan Times

Ticked Off: After VP Naidu, Twitter Restores Blue Badge on RSS Chief Mohan Bhagw - News18
Ticked Off: After VP Naidu, Twitter Restores Blue Badge on RSS Chief Mohan Bhagw  News18

Using Feedly to generate post ideas - LexBlog
Using Feedly to generate post ideas  LexBlog

Emeryville man fatally shot in Richmond - Richmond Standard
Emeryville man fatally shot in Richmond  Richmond Standard

House panel summons Twitter to discuss new IT rules, other issues on June 18 - The Indian Express
House panel summons Twitter to discuss new IT rules, other issues on June 18  The Indian Express

Return of the RSS reader » Nieman Journalism Lab - Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard
Return of the RSS reader » Nieman Journalism Lab  Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard

Explained: Why India can't block Twitter, unlike Nigeria - ummid.com
Explained: Why India can't block Twitter, unlike Nigeria  ummid.com

Blogging 101: Why Bother & Key Elements of an Effective Blog - Business 2 Community
Blogging 101: Why Bother & Key Elements of an Effective Blog  Business 2 Community

Gillmor Gang: Grifters Paradise - TechCrunch
Gillmor Gang: Grifters Paradise  TechCrunch

19 Microblogging Platforms that Let You Blog Anywhere, Anytime - Adweek
19 Microblogging Platforms that Let You Blog Anywhere, Anytime  Adweek

The Rise and Demise of RSS - Motherboard
The Rise and Demise of RSS  Motherboard

Employer’s Policies On Blogging, Solicitation and E-Mail Signature Blocks Lawful, NLRB Rules (For Now, Anyway) - JD Supra
Employer’s Policies On Blogging, Solicitation and E-Mail Signature Blocks Lawful, NLRB Rules (For Now, Anyway)  JD Supra

RSS bets on small shakhas in hinterland to make it big in TN - The Times of India Blog
RSS bets on small shakhas in hinterland to make it big in TN  The Times of India Blog

What is RSS? And Is It Still Important? - Small Business Trends
What is RSS? And Is It Still Important?  Small Business Trends

Link to the Original Articles in your RSS Feeds - Digital Inspiration
Link to the Original Articles in your RSS Feeds  Digital Inspiration

Desi micro-blogging platform Koo gets new logo - BusinessLine
Desi micro-blogging platform Koo gets new logo  BusinessLine

Niklas Gray's Blog - A Debugging Story - Gamasutra
Niklas Gray's Blog - A Debugging Story  Gamasutra

Exiled Azerbaijani blogger Mahammad Mirzali stabbed at least 16 times in knife attack in France - CPJ Press Freedom Online
Exiled Azerbaijani blogger Mahammad Mirzali stabbed at least 16 times in knife attack in France  CPJ Press Freedom Online

Ricardo Bess's Blog - An approach to understanding art styles - Gamasutra
Ricardo Bess's Blog - An approach to understanding art styles  Gamasutra

John Mueller Relaunches His Old Blog - Search Engine Roundtable
John Mueller Relaunches His Old Blog  Search Engine Roundtable

Feedburner is getting an updated infrastructure at the loss of email subscription service by Google - Digital Information World
Feedburner is getting an updated infrastructure at the loss of email subscription service by Google  Digital Information World

Back to the RSS Future - TechNewsWorld
Back to the RSS Future  TechNewsWorld

Three key discoverability takeaways from the Epic/Apple lawsuit - Gamasutra
Three key discoverability takeaways from the Epic/Apple lawsuit  Gamasutra

RSS Feeds and How To Burn Them - Business 2 Community
RSS Feeds and How To Burn Them  Business 2 Community

'I'm the patient now' | Maryland ER doctor blogs about breast cancer journey - WUSA9.com
'I'm the patient now' | Maryland ER doctor blogs about breast cancer journey  WUSA9.com

Will there be peace between India and Pakistan? - The Times of India Blog
Will there be peace between India and Pakistan?  The Times of India Blog

eBay Kills Affiliate Tool that Drives Traffic to Seller Listings - EcommerceBytes
eBay Kills Affiliate Tool that Drives Traffic to Seller Listings  EcommerceBytes

A Few Simple Benefits of Using An RSS Feed - Business 2 Community
A Few Simple Benefits of Using An RSS Feed  Business 2 Community

How a former Detroit Pistons blogger — Ohio's Jason Preston — became March Madness star - Detroit Free Press
How a former Detroit Pistons blogger — Ohio's Jason Preston — became March Madness star  Detroit Free Press

Mike Marrone's Blog - Game Dev Digest Issue #74 - Visuals and Math - Gamasutra
Mike Marrone's Blog - Game Dev Digest Issue #74 - Visuals and Math  Gamasutra

What Is an RSS Feed? (+ How to Get Started) - G2
What Is an RSS Feed? (+ How to Get Started)  G2

RSS’s standardised Hinduism – Part 3 - Times of India
RSS’s standardised Hinduism – Part 3  Times of India

RSS is the greatest enemy of Hinduism - Times of India
RSS is the greatest enemy of Hinduism  Times of India

Packers-Saints Week 3 Live Blog - Packers.com - Packers.com
Packers-Saints Week 3 Live Blog - Packers.com  Packers.com

How to Make a Decent Game Trailer for less than $100 - Gamasutra
How to Make a Decent Game Trailer for less than $100  Gamasutra

Ryan Sumo's Blog - How much should I discount my game? - Gamasutra
Ryan Sumo's Blog - How much should I discount my game?  Gamasutra

Start RSS Feeding Content Today With dlvr.it to Social Media [How-To] - Rocks Digital
Start RSS Feeding Content Today With dlvr.it to Social Media [How-To]  Rocks Digital

Daniel Kleffmann's Blog - Collaboration games in the aftermath of COVID-19 - Gamasutra
Daniel Kleffmann's Blog - Collaboration games in the aftermath of COVID-19  Gamasutra

Why no one wants Mamata Banerjee to win this time - The Times of India Blog
Why no one wants Mamata Banerjee to win this time  The Times of India Blog

Coffman named 2020-2021 member manager of YALSA's blog, The Hub - ala.org
Coffman named 2020-2021 member manager of YALSA's blog, The Hub  ala.org

Let it rip: It’s rip roaring that the Uttarakhand CM is shocked at women wearing ripped jeans - The Times of India Blog
Let it rip: It’s rip roaring that the Uttarakhand CM is shocked at women wearing ripped jeans  The Times of India Blog

What Happened to Tagging? - JSTOR Daily
What Happened to Tagging?  JSTOR Daily

As Microsoft moves more blogs off its MSDN and TechNet sites, here's how to stay current - ZDNet
As Microsoft moves more blogs off its MSDN and TechNet sites, here's how to stay current  ZDNet

PM Modi should hold firm against protesting farmers: Bloomberg - The Times of India Blog
PM Modi should hold firm against protesting farmers: Bloomberg  The Times of India Blog

Jeff Spoonhower's Blog - Video Games and the Auteur Theory - Gamasutra
Jeff Spoonhower's Blog - Video Games and the Auteur Theory  Gamasutra

How to Auto-Post your Blog Updates to Twitter - Digital Inspiration
How to Auto-Post your Blog Updates to Twitter  Digital Inspiration

Pulkit Garg's Blog - Video Game Accessibility - Gamasutra
Pulkit Garg's Blog - Video Game Accessibility  Gamasutra

Time has come for an all-India Muslim party - The Times of India Blog
Time has come for an all-India Muslim party  The Times of India Blog

The four reasons why Indian liberals are a fast-disappearing species - The Times of India Blog
The four reasons why Indian liberals are a fast-disappearing species  The Times of India Blog

Manusmriti, maya and Hindutva’s other ghosts - The Times of India Blog
Manusmriti, maya and Hindutva’s other ghosts  The Times of India Blog

YALSA names 2021 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Readers - ala.org
YALSA names 2021 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Readers  ala.org

Khela Shesh: Didi just another sacrifice in Modi’s Ashwamedha - The Times of India Blog
Khela Shesh: Didi just another sacrifice in Modi’s Ashwamedha  The Times of India Blog

Is there a bigger agenda behind drug probe against Bollywood stars? - The Times of India Blog
Is there a bigger agenda behind drug probe against Bollywood stars?  The Times of India Blog

Google AdSense Ads in RSS Feeds - First Impressions & Screenshots - Digital Inspiration
Google AdSense Ads in RSS Feeds - First Impressions & Screenshots  Digital Inspiration

Why Google killed off Google Reader: It was self-defense – Gigaom - GigaOM
Why Google killed off Google Reader: It was self-defense – Gigaom  GigaOM

The eccentric economic ideology of RSS and BJP – Part 2 - Times of India
The eccentric economic ideology of RSS and BJP – Part 2  Times of India

VA Catholic priest blogged about child sex abuse. Now, he says bishop is threatening to defrock him - WUSA9.com
VA Catholic priest blogged about child sex abuse. Now, he says bishop is threatening to defrock him  WUSA9.com

The Bright Side of Ray-Traced Global Illumination - Gamasutra
The Bright Side of Ray-Traced Global Illumination  Gamasutra

Internet & Technology - Research and data from the Pew Research Center - Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project
Internet & Technology - Research and data from the Pew Research Center  Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project

WordPress vs. Wix: What's the Best Website Platform for Manufacturers? - ThomasNet News
WordPress vs. Wix: What's the Best Website Platform for Manufacturers?  ThomasNet News

Biden wins, now what is for India? - The Times of India Blog
Biden wins, now what is for India?  The Times of India Blog

The ‘Vishkanya’ fixation: From Hathras to Mumbai, hatred of women marks rightwing cultural warriors - The Times of India Blog
The ‘Vishkanya’ fixation: From Hathras to Mumbai, hatred of women marks rightwing cultural warriors  The Times of India Blog

Doing Gandhi and Godse with Sikhs and farmers’ movement - The Times of India Blog
Doing Gandhi and Godse with Sikhs and farmers’ movement  The Times of India Blog

2019 Saveur Blog Award Winners - Saveur
2019 Saveur Blog Award Winners  Saveur

8 Ways to Get (And Keep) Blog Readers - Backstage
8 Ways to Get (And Keep) Blog Readers  Backstage

Add Inside Higher Ed content to your site - Inside Higher Ed
Add Inside Higher Ed content to your site  Inside Higher Ed

Putin says will think about creating his own blog - TASS
Putin says will think about creating his own blog  TASS

How to Write a Successful Blog - Digital Inspiration
How to Write a Successful Blog  Digital Inspiration

Evidence of a Homeowner-Renter Gap for Electric Appliances - Energy Institute at Haas
Evidence of a Homeowner-Renter Gap for Electric Appliances  Energy Institute at Haas

We need to take Steam wishlist quality more seriously - Gamasutra
We need to take Steam wishlist quality more seriously  Gamasutra

Pulkit Garg's Blog - Gamasutra
Pulkit Garg's Blog  Gamasutra

The Rule of 5 for Bloggers - Entrepreneur
The Rule of 5 for Bloggers  Entrepreneur

The RSS sutras for the twenty-first century - Times of India
The RSS sutras for the twenty-first century  Times of India

A return to blogs (finally? sort of?) » Nieman Journalism Lab - Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard
A return to blogs (finally? sort of?) » Nieman Journalism Lab  Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard

How to Submit a Podcast to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify in 2021 - Voices.com
How to Submit a Podcast to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify in 2021  Voices.com

Five years after Google conquered and abandoned RSS, the news-reader ecosystem is showing green shoots - Boing Boing
Five years after Google conquered and abandoned RSS, the news-reader ecosystem is showing green shoots  Boing Boing

5 Indisputable Reasons Why You Need a Blogging Strategy - Social Media Today
5 Indisputable Reasons Why You Need a Blogging Strategy  Social Media Today

Intel's CES 2021 Press Event: The Future of Intel (A Live Blog, 1pm PT) - AnandTech
Intel's CES 2021 Press Event: The Future of Intel (A Live Blog, 1pm PT)  AnandTech

The Muslim Beauty Bloggers Who Have Helped Me Use Makeup on My Own Terms - Allure
The Muslim Beauty Bloggers Who Have Helped Me Use Makeup on My Own Terms  Allure

YALSA names 2021 Best Fiction for Young Adults | News and Press Center - ala.org
YALSA names 2021 Best Fiction for Young Adults | News and Press Center  ala.org

Making That Shift from Blogger to WordPress - Digital Inspiration
Making That Shift from Blogger to WordPress  Digital Inspiration

My Own Personal Extinction - Scientific American Blog Network - Scientific American
My Own Personal Extinction - Scientific American Blog Network  Scientific American

Web 100: Best law blogs - ABA Journal
Web 100: Best law blogs  ABA Journal

Reform suggestions for Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh - Times of India
Reform suggestions for Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh  Times of India

How to Move your Blogger Blog on Custom Domain to WordPress - Digital Inspiration
How to Move your Blogger Blog on Custom Domain to WordPress  Digital Inspiration

Cryptocurrency- Hot or not - The Times of India Blog
Cryptocurrency- Hot or not  The Times of India Blog

How to Set Up a Subscription Podcast on BlueHost - Chron.com - Chron.com
How to Set Up a Subscription Podcast on BlueHost - Chron.com  Chron.com

RSS’s choice of shorts as uniform indicates a belief in British power - Economic Times
RSS’s choice of shorts as uniform indicates a belief in British power  Economic Times

The RSS isn’t an NGO, it very much a government organisation - Times of India
The RSS isn’t an NGO, it very much a government organisation  Times of India

How to Read More and Become an Expert Blogger in 30 Days - Business 2 Community
How to Read More and Become an Expert Blogger in 30 Days  Business 2 Community

What Hindutva trolls can learn from Gandhi - The Times of India Blog
What Hindutva trolls can learn from Gandhi  The Times of India Blog

Best blogging platforms of 2021 - Techradar
Best blogging platforms of 2021  Techradar

Chris Zukowski's Blog - Why people aren't buying your game - Gamasutra
Chris Zukowski's Blog - Why people aren't buying your game  Gamasutra

Introducing Circuit Breaker, a new gadget blog from The Verge - The Verge
Introducing Circuit Breaker, a new gadget blog from The Verge  The Verge

How to Migrate your Blog from Blogger to WordPress - Digital Inspiration
How to Migrate your Blog from Blogger to WordPress  Digital Inspiration

Blogs: - Gamasutra
Blogs:  Gamasutra

Farmer agitation: Use iron fist in a velvet glove - The Times of India Blog
Farmer agitation: Use iron fist in a velvet glove  The Times of India Blog

Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 2/6/19: I have seen the Snappening and it is an RSS feed - Comics Beat
Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 2/6/19: I have seen the Snappening and it is an RSS feed  Comics Beat

Nintendo Switch Game Sales: The Three Biggest Misconceptions - Gamasutra
Nintendo Switch Game Sales: The Three Biggest Misconceptions  Gamasutra

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