Kurt McKee

lessons learned in production

Hey there! This article was written in 2005.

It might not have aged well for any number of reasons, so keep that in mind when reading (or clicking outgoing links!).

Feeds save me time

Posted 8 November 2005

I've nearly reduced my browsing to task-oriented work with the help of feed technology. What is this technology, you ask? Feeds bring content directly to you, the reader, so you can get on with your life.

I habitually used to open a dozen tabs in Firefox each day to check for updates from the web comics I read. I would run through all of my friends' blogs to see if they had posted anything new. And above all, I would check Slashdot multiple times each day. Thanks to my feed reader, gone are the days when I have to go to the content - the content now comes directly to me.

I mentioned above that my browsing has become more task-oriented; by that I mean that I now use a browser strictly to seek out new sources of information. Transitive information (such as the phone number of a local pizza joint) is processed and forgotten. Sites of interest are added to my feed reader. Meanwhile, I've actually come to dismiss sites offering no feeds (Ctrl+Alt+Del being one of them).

If you want to use feeds, you'll need a feed reader (or "aggregator"). Whether you're using Linux, Mac, or Windows, there's a feed reader for you. Dan has recommended Feedreader for Windows, David swears by NetNewsWire Lite for Mac, and Caleb uses Sage (a Firefox extension). I personally recommend Mozilla Thunderbird for casual readers. Further, you can use an online feed reader such as Bloglines if you travel a lot or use multiple computers.

Next, you'll want to find some feeds to subscribe to. You could start with my site (look for the links at the bottom of the page). Xanga, LiveJournal, and Blogger all offer feeds for individual blogs. In addition, most news sites, such as CNN and the Wall Street Journal, offer feeds as well. Look for bright orange buttons labeled XML or RSS.

Feel free to post questions or suggestions for your favorite feed reader.

Oh yes, and I've decided to quit Slashdot cold turkey.