Newsreader software (a.k.a. feed reader, aggregator)

Brief Description

Newsreader software allows users to read updates from multiple websites, blogs and podcasts from a single location. Newsreader software relies on information in the form of RSS feeds, which it then aggregates into a single channel for receiving and displaying new information as it is updated.

History

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When to use

Newsreader software and web-based applications go hand-in-hand with RSS feeds. Although RSS feeds also may be viewed as embedded content within webpages or used to generate PDFs and emails, feed readers are the most commonly used medium for subscribing to and viewing content from RSS feeds. As mentioned in the wiki page on RSS feeds, we recommend using RSS feeds and newsreader software if:
  • You spend a lot of time visiting the same websites, blogs, etc. regularly to check for updates;
  • You want to start following multiple blogs and news sites' updated content in 'real time'; and
  • You want to remix content from a variety of different websites and services and republish them on your own website, blog, etc.

How to use

According to the guys at Common Craft, you can begin using RSS feeds and newsreader services in three easy steps:
  1. Make an account at an RSS reader website. (Listed below)
  2. Find websites you are interested in.
  3. Click on these little orange icons: external image feed-icon.gif

Selecting the tool

There are many publicly available RSS readers on the internet. We recommend that you check out the following services and choose for yourself.
The following are web-based RSS readers:

RSS feeds can also be aggregated to Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Internet Explorer 7.
For a complete list, go to List of feed aggregators.

Tips and Lessons Learned

  • There seems to be a general pattern from passive RSS use to a more proactive approach that involves sharing your subscribed and favorited items with friends, family and colleagues. To offer one analogy, users often begin by setting up an iGoogle page featuring feeds from their favorite sites, blogs, etc. and may even go about organizing them by topic, etc. using the tab feature. As you get used to using iGoogle, however, you may find that you only follow feeds featured in your home tab and you may also want to keep better track of your favorite articles, blog posts, etc. Subscribing to these feeds using a newsreader like Google Reader will allow you to save these items by tagging, starring or sharing them in your reader while also acting as a searchable database for all the content in your subscribed feeds. Moreover, Reader allows you to remix these items into your own customized feed, which you can then publish to your own website, blog or share with your email contacts.

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