Read Me First: I was initially writing this post to do a review of my favorite RSS Reader – Feedly. But I sort of ended up explaining the whole concept of RSS which took out nearly half of this article. If you already know what RSS is you can skip the first portion of the article and jump right to my RSS reader review of Feedly. However, if you are not an active user of RSS, I’d urge you to read what I have to say about RSS.
Background of RSS
OK, now let me start this post with a simple question – How do you normally browse the web for the latest news? Do you like to go to specific websites individually (e.g. Techcrunch, Mashable, CNN) or do you go to some of the news aggregator sites like Google News, Techmeme, Yahoo News? Or Maybe you prefer the news to come to you via sources like Twitter, Friendfeed and RSS.
Well traditionally most non tech-savvy people browse the web in a very old fashioned way. They fire up their browser, enter the URL, click enter and they are on! And they do this everytime they are hungry for new information/news. Well visiting websites manually to check for news does serve the purpose and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. However as the web has evolved in the last couple of years and more and more information is cluttering up the web – it has brought in a new problem, which is “information overload”.
There are now so many web sites on the web today that you can’t even remember their names straight without scratching your head. And relying on the main stream media like (CNN, BBC, ABC), too much doesn’t always bring you the right news at the right time.
Ask yourself, when and how did you hear about the Iran election issues first or say the tragic death of the king of Pop – Michael Jackson? Most likely your answer would be either from friends, social media or from the blogosphere. Because on both occasion the main stream media was kind of late to cover the story. But I don’t really blame them; Due to their corporate ‘red-tapes’ they have less flexibility when it comes to bringing on the news at the right time. This is the reason why, many people (like myself) keep ourselves attached to the blogosphere quite a bit.
Anyway going back to the original topic – How do you keep track of all these big/small websites that are out there? Like for instance, I am interested in Technology, Gadgets, Search & a few other things. In order to keep tabs on my industry I need to keep an eye on about 100 different blogs/websites. So everyday early in the morning, if I can quickly scan over all the stories/posts that these blogs has published then I’d pretty much get an idea of whats happening on my industry. And because web is not like the old media, morning is not the only time I’m checking for news. A new story may pile up every 10 minutes depending on what you are interested in. If i were to check all these 100 different sites everyday even once at a time and go through all their stories then I probably won’t be able to do any other job because even thinking of opening 100 websites from my bookmarks really scares the hell out of me!
This is exactly where RSS comes in pretty handly. RSS, which stands for Really Simple Syndication is basically a technology that sort of makes it very easy for you to ‘digitally subscribe’ to a website or a blog. It works exactly like a newspaper/magazine subscription. For example – if you like a particular magazine a lot (e.g. Readers Digest), you may just buy it at a book shop every month physically (just like browsing a website manually for news), or you can be smart and just subscribe to it! So the benefit of subscribing is – you don’t need to ‘remember’ when to go and get the new issue and you will always get it at your convenience (they usually ship the magazine to you).
The concept of RSS is exactly the same. You sort of pick the sites/blogs that you like and mostly visit at all times. You know for sure that you’ll keep on coming back to these sites everyday to check if there is anything new on there. But do you know that most of these websites offers something called “RSS” that actually lets you to subscribe to that website for FREE? Yes, thats right! And every time they have a new article or information the news gets delivered to something called a “RSS Reader”.
RSS Reader is like one-way email program. It has the ability to receive things, but it can’t send anything out. So basically using your RSS Reader, you are going to subscribe to your favorite blogs/websites that you visit frequently. Your RSS Reader then keeps track of all those websites for you and automatically displays all the latest news all in one single place. So you don’t need to go to 100 different websites, but you can just open one program (Your RSS Reader) and get all the updates there!
Now RSS Readers doesn’t necessarily has to be a software that you need to install on your computer. There are also many web based, and simple browser based RSS readers that just works fine, in fact great! Personally I’m a huge fan of Google Reader, which is google’s web based RSS reader. But there are also other desktop RSS reader that you can install on your computer and have access to all your feeds (your subscriptions). My favorite RSS reader for desktop probably would be – FeedDemon . But anyway I sort of dedicated this post to my current and most favorite RSS reader – Feedly!
Feedly – RSS Reader Review
Feedly is basically a Firefox addon that you can install in your Firefox browser to read and manage your feeds. It basically uses your Google Reader, in conjunction with Twitter & Friend Feed and gives you the most amazing feed reading experience that you have ever experienced anywhere else.
Feedly takes your boring RSS reader and gives it a very shiny magazine like look. It has several different viewing options that you can choose form – Magazine, Overview, Summery, Picture grid etc. – each having their own advantages. The main problem with most of the RSS readers that I have used is, if you don’t check it for few days, hundreds of stories gets jammed up and you tend to miss out the important ones. But with Feedly and its social integration with twitter, friendfeed & Google Reader – it is more intelligent to understand what is hot and what is not. Based on your previous reading pattern, it sorts of guesses your favourite feeds that you can’t get enough of. It also has easy ways of reading the full stories on screen or even quickly scan through the title and a brief summery of hundreds of stories all on one single page.
The best part about Feedly is the way it organizes and displays your feed. Reading your feeds inside feedly is genuinely pleasing and takes very little effort compared to any other web-based or desktop based RSS reader that are out there.
Other than handling feeds, it also lets you to integrate your twitter and friendfeed account inside feedly so that you can keep track of what is happening in the social media. When you are browsing a page or searching for something on a search engine like Google, it looks at your keyword and pulls up the recent stories about those topics from your feeds and nicely overlays a list of stories at the bottom of your screen.
Feedly does so many things, that as I’m writing a review on my favorite RSS reader, I just can’t think of words that will convince you enough to try this awesome free firefox addon. So if you use RSS and have firefox on your computer, I’d really urge you to give Feedly a try! You will love it! In case you have never used RSS before, don’t panic! I have already sort of explained the whole concept of RSS at the beginning of the post which, I believe is sufficient for you to get started with RSS. So try feedly and see how it goes!
By the way, don’t forget to subscribe to my blog via RSS for more great resources. Let me make it very easy for you, click on the huge button below to subscribe –
So have you tried feedly yet? Share your experience!