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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. September / 26 / 2023

Luxury consumers spending on the rise - Retail Customer Experience
Luxury consumers spending on the rise  Retail Customer Experience

FAT Brands acquires Smokey Bones for $30M - Fast Casual
FAT Brands acquires Smokey Bones for $30M  Fast Casual

Amazon Restricts Authors From Self-Publishing More Than Three ... - Slashdot
Amazon Restricts Authors From Self-Publishing More Than Three ...  Slashdot

Grippo's acquires fellow Ohio snack food maker Ballreich - Vending Times
Grippo's acquires fellow Ohio snack food maker Ballreich  Vending Times

ARE BLOGS COMING BACK? - Carly Riordan
ARE BLOGS COMING BACK?  Carly Riordan

How Google Reader died — and why the web misses it more than ... - The Verge
How Google Reader died — and why the web misses it more than ...  The Verge

Can Philanthropy Save Local Newspapers? - Slashdot
Can Philanthropy Save Local Newspapers?  Slashdot

Google Violated Its Standards in Ad Deals, Research Finds - Slashdot
Google Violated Its Standards in Ad Deals, Research Finds  Slashdot

Five apps to use to stay on top of news without looking at Twitter - The Verge
Five apps to use to stay on top of news without looking at Twitter  The Verge

Gmail 向HTML 模式說再見:是進步還是排除數位弱勢? » 網路資訊 ... - 網路資訊雜誌 Network Magazine Taiwan
Gmail 向HTML 模式說再見:是進步還是排除數位弱勢? » 網路資訊 ...  網路資訊雜誌 Network Magazine Taiwan

ChatGPT App Can Now Search the Web Via Bing - Slashdot
ChatGPT App Can Now Search the Web Via Bing  Slashdot

Create a Great-Looking Static Blog From Your Linux Terminal With ... - MUO - MakeUseOf
Create a Great-Looking Static Blog From Your Linux Terminal With ...  MUO - MakeUseOf

RSS Feeds for EconLog - Econlib
RSS Feeds for EconLog  Econlib

Mandy Merriman's dark chocolate huckleberry shake cake recipe - ABC News
Mandy Merriman's dark chocolate huckleberry shake cake recipe  ABC News

Building your website using Jigsaw - Laravel News
Building your website using Jigsaw  Laravel News

One of Reddit's Biggest Communities Is Suggesting Users Move To ... - Slashdot
One of Reddit's Biggest Communities Is Suggesting Users Move To ...  Slashdot

ReactJS Tutorial: Embed Your YouTube and Medium RSS Feeds ... - hackernoon.com
ReactJS Tutorial: Embed Your YouTube and Medium RSS Feeds ...  hackernoon.com

12 Best RSS Feed Creators for Your Blog or Website - Robots.net
12 Best RSS Feed Creators for Your Blog or Website  Robots.net

Meet New Blogger Jakaiyah, an infectious disease enthusiast ... - Duke University
Meet New Blogger Jakaiyah, an infectious disease enthusiast ...  Duke University

Subscribing to Sky & Telescope's RSS Feeds - Sky & Telescope
Subscribing to Sky & Telescope's RSS Feeds  Sky & Telescope

How To Start a Business Blog | Chase for Business | chase.com - Chase News & Stories
How To Start a Business Blog | Chase for Business | chase.com  Chase News & Stories

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

The Rise and Demise of RSS - VICE
The Rise and Demise of RSS  VICE

Subscribe to Tor.com - tor.com
Subscribe to Tor.com  tor.com

How to Write an Awesome Blog Post in 5 Steps - WordStream
How to Write an Awesome Blog Post in 5 Steps  WordStream

RSS feeds – Canada Revenue Agency - Canada.ca
RSS feeds – Canada Revenue Agency  Canada.ca

RSS Feed - Jamaica Gleaner
RSS Feed  Jamaica Gleaner

RSS Feeds — Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada - Canada.ca
RSS Feeds — Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada  Canada.ca

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

How to Add an XML Sitemap to your Blogger Blog - Digital Inspiration - Digital Inspiration
How to Add an XML Sitemap to your Blogger Blog - Digital Inspiration  Digital Inspiration

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

Shows - Microsoft
Shows  Microsoft

Wikis, blogs and podcasts: a new generation of Web-based tools for ... - BMC Medical Education
Wikis, blogs and podcasts: a new generation of Web-based tools for ...  BMC Medical Education

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

How to Create RSS Feeds for Google Search Results - Digital ... - Digital Inspiration
How to Create RSS Feeds for Google Search Results - Digital ...  Digital Inspiration

How to Create a Web Page With an RSS Feed - Chron
How to Create a Web Page With an RSS Feed  Chron

Guest Blogger - Psychology Today
Guest Blogger  Psychology Today

20 Places You Should Be Sharing Your Content - Search Engine Journal
20 Places You Should Be Sharing Your Content  Search Engine Journal

How to Create an Impressive GitHub Profile README — SitePoint - SitePoint
How to Create an Impressive GitHub Profile README — SitePoint  SitePoint

Climate 411 | Blogging the science and policy of global warming - Environmental Defense Fund
Climate 411 | Blogging the science and policy of global warming  Environmental Defense Fund

50 Things You Should Know About Tumblr - Search Engine Journal
50 Things You Should Know About Tumblr  Search Engine Journal

Wales Music: Saying goodbye to Ukraine, Gary Numan and 2011 - BBC
Wales Music: Saying goodbye to Ukraine, Gary Numan and 2011  BBC

Community guidelines - BMC blog network - BMC Blogs Network
Community guidelines - BMC blog network  BMC Blogs Network

Wales Music: Tom Jones at 70 - BBC
Wales Music: Tom Jones at 70  BBC

Wales Music: Bethan Elfyn and James Dean Bradfield - BBC
Wales Music: Bethan Elfyn and James Dean Bradfield  BBC

Weather.gov > Credits - National Weather Service
Weather.gov > Credits  National Weather Service

Wales Music: Marina And The Diamonds announces new album - BBC
Wales Music: Marina And The Diamonds announces new album  BBC

Who The Hell Reads Your Blog Anyway? - The Minimalists
Who The Hell Reads Your Blog Anyway?  The Minimalists

How to Keep Writing When No one is Reading Your Blog! - solosophie
How to Keep Writing When No one is Reading Your Blog!  solosophie

Timeline: The Life of the Blog - NPR
Timeline: The Life of the Blog  NPR

Nonfiction Authors Association Blog - Publishers Lunch Deluxe
Nonfiction Authors Association Blog  Publishers Lunch Deluxe

Help and Technical Support - New Zealand News - New Zealand Herald
Help and Technical Support - New Zealand News  New Zealand Herald

2 Terror Suspects Arrested on Flight from U.S. - CBS News
2 Terror Suspects Arrested on Flight from U.S.  CBS News

Miss Calif. Gets Warm Reception At Church - CBS News
Miss Calif. Gets Warm Reception At Church  CBS News

The MaddowBlog Appendix - MSNBC
The MaddowBlog Appendix  MSNBC

Intel chair: "Chain" of Iran plots possible - CBS News
Intel chair: "Chain" of Iran plots possible  CBS News

Postal Service suspends pension plan payments - CBS News
Postal Service suspends pension plan payments  CBS News

2 million ordered to leave as Irene takes aim - CBS News
2 million ordered to leave as Irene takes aim  CBS News

Suspicious parcel at US air base; 3 hospitalized - CBS News
Suspicious parcel at US air base; 3 hospitalized  CBS News

Norway panel unlikely to rule Breivik insane - CBS News
Norway panel unlikely to rule Breivik insane  CBS News

William, Catherine star at Queen's birthday bash - CBS News
William, Catherine star at Queen's birthday bash  CBS News

Report: Slain UK troops' family phones hacked - CBS News
Report: Slain UK troops' family phones hacked  CBS News

More evacuations as Arizona wildfire spreads - CBS News
More evacuations as Arizona wildfire spreads  CBS News

Jobs' Liver Transplant Raises Questions - CBS News
Jobs' Liver Transplant Raises Questions  CBS News

Probe could give Weiner more headaches: expert - CBS News
Probe could give Weiner more headaches: expert  CBS News

Cameron: UK won't allow "culture of fear" - CBS News
Cameron: UK won't allow "culture of fear"  CBS News

What's Next for Jay Leno? - CBS News
What's Next for Jay Leno?  CBS News

Clemens strikes out in court, faces retrial - CBS News
Clemens strikes out in court, faces retrial  CBS News

How to Throw the Perfect Baby Shower - CBS News
How to Throw the Perfect Baby Shower  CBS News

Preparing the U.S. Army for the Future - CBS News
Preparing the U.S. Army for the Future  CBS News

2 Newly-Attributed Mozart Works Presented - CBS News
2 Newly-Attributed Mozart Works Presented  CBS News

Shock, anger sweep Iraq after bloodbath - CBS News
Shock, anger sweep Iraq after bloodbath  CBS News

Ex-Friend: Loughner Wanted Eyes of Public, Media - CBS News
Ex-Friend: Loughner Wanted Eyes of Public, Media  CBS News

Pete Rouse, Insider's Insider, Replacing Emanuel - CBS News
Pete Rouse, Insider's Insider, Replacing Emanuel  CBS News

Obama At A Popularity Crossroads? - CBS News
Obama At A Popularity Crossroads?  CBS News

Face the Nation: Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich - CBS News
Face the Nation: Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich  CBS News

Obama Mounts Media Blitz For Stimulus Plan - CBS News
Obama Mounts Media Blitz For Stimulus Plan  CBS News

Police Storm Apartment of Yale Researcher - CBS News
Police Storm Apartment of Yale Researcher  CBS News

Unabomber victims to split $232K from auction - CBS News
Unabomber victims to split $232K from auction  CBS News

Iran Probing "Intentions" of U.K. Sailors - CBS News
Iran Probing "Intentions" of U.K. Sailors  CBS News

3 Convicted Of Plot To Kill U.S. Soldiers - CBS News
3 Convicted Of Plot To Kill U.S. Soldiers  CBS News

What Is SEO - Search Engine Optimization? - Search Engine Land
What Is SEO - Search Engine Optimization?  Search Engine Land

Turkey, a Stealth Superpower? - CBS News
Turkey, a Stealth Superpower?  CBS News

The Tax Increase McCain Doesn't Want To Talk About - CBS News
The Tax Increase McCain Doesn't Want To Talk About  CBS News

Time Running Out For China Quake Victims - CBS News
Time Running Out For China Quake Victims  CBS News

Margin Of Error - CBS News
Margin Of Error  CBS News

Quit Toying Around - CBS News
Quit Toying Around  CBS News

Beware Web Hitchhikers - CBS News
Beware Web Hitchhikers  CBS News

Obama & Tax Cuts: Can We Afford to Borrow $700B? - CBS News
Obama & Tax Cuts: Can We Afford to Borrow $700B?  CBS News

2nd Storm Slams Philippines, 4 Dead - CBS News
2nd Storm Slams Philippines, 4 Dead  CBS News

Putin's Party Wins Russia Election - CBS News
Putin's Party Wins Russia Election  CBS News

Obama Stresses Cooperation With Hu, China - CBS News
Obama Stresses Cooperation With Hu, China  CBS News

Pure Horserace: All Eyes On Rudy, Romney - CBS News
Pure Horserace: All Eyes On Rudy, Romney  CBS News

Israel Casts Suspicious Eye On U.S. Intel - CBS News
Israel Casts Suspicious Eye On U.S. Intel  CBS News

Denis Leary To Host "Fashion Rocks" - CBS News
Denis Leary To Host "Fashion Rocks"  CBS News

Pakistan's New President, Zardari Speaks - CBS News
Pakistan's New President, Zardari Speaks  CBS News

Could This Mayor Survive In Washington? - CBS News
Could This Mayor Survive In Washington?  CBS News

We Know The Real Barack Obama - CBS News
We Know The Real Barack Obama  CBS News

Bronx Zoo's elusive cobra gets a name - CBS News
Bronx Zoo's elusive cobra gets a name  CBS News

Buzzword Overkill - CBS News
Buzzword Overkill  CBS News

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