Handy-Dandy Guide To Automatically Reading Blogs
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I keep coming across people who are
not familiar with RSS and how it can simplify your
life if you’d like to keep current with a range of
you open a morning newspaper you read stories from
around the world assembled by editors from hundreds
of sources (wire services, reporters). The paper prints
the same news for every reader - you choose which
stories to read. Instead of relying on a editor to
choose the news, how would you like to have a ‘morning
newspaper’ delivered each and every day with stories
on topics *you* choose? With a free “Blog Reader”
or news aggregator you can create a personal page
on your web browser loaded with the freshest news
about the things you love.
way you set up your ‘personal newspaper’ involves
a few steps and can seem a little tricky. Follow my
step-by-guide below and you’ll be reading information
about your topic from all over the Internet on one
web page. A little investment of your time will pay
need about 30 minutes to follow the steps below. Ready?
- What is a Blog?
a blog (WeB LOG) is an online diary. There are millions
and millions out there! The trick is finding the ones
that have information you need and flagging them when
they post updates. Advantage: you get the ‘inside
scoop’ before most people in your industry. The good
news about blogs is that there are probably dozens you will
find interesting, the bad news is that means there
are dozens of bookmarks you must keep, and since bloggers
don’t post on a regular schedule you never know when
you need to check back to read updates. That’s why
you need a “blog reader”. Technically it’s known as
an “RSS Reader”.
Why Read Blogs?
are as many reasons to read blogs as there are people.
Each person's reasons are different. Here are a few
reasons I read blogs:
I get a direct line into the thinking of important
people in the field. In technology this could be
Jonathan Schwartz (Sun) or Irving Wladawsky-Berger
(IBM). In the media it might be Dan Gillmor (San
Jose Mercury News). Or perhaps it’s people with
their finger on the culture like Craig Newmark (craigslist).
It's unfiltered and in their own words.
Reading from a news aggregator is a much quicker
way of reading news. For example, when I log in
in the morning and hop over to Bloglines, in one
interface I can see what many people are commenting
on, along with news outlets like the NY Times, Washington
Post, and Boston Globe. This beats visiting the
websites individually to see if they might have
some updated content to read.
You get a much better picture of the individuals
involved; what they're working on, what their concerns
are, sometimes even what their favorite restaurant
is. Most bloggers like to read Comments you can
leave. This is a great way to build relationships.
It’s not a replacement for personal interaction,
of course, but one that has its place and has a
lot more scale to it.
Announcements are often made first in blogs.
is an RSS Reader?
stands for ‘Really Simple Syndication’. Just like
your morning paper relies on syndicated news from
AP, Reuters etc, so your blog reader will rely on
the fact that most blogs ’syndicate’ their news -
they can ‘feed’ it to your blog reader for you to
news reader or aggregator checks a list of feeds on
your behalf and displays any updated articles that
it finds. It is common to find web feeds on nearly
all blogs as well as many websites such CNN.com. RSS
programs are available for various operating systems.
do I find an RSS Reader?
- Google ‘RSS Reader’. The most popular are Newsgator,
Google Reader, Rocket. I use Bloglines. The rest of
this guide is customized for Bloglines, but the same
principals will work for all of them.
You’ll need to open two browser windows.
In the first browser window, link to my blog: http://www.exec-comms.com/blog
- I’ll use this as an example blog to add to your
feeder - hey! it’s a great blog!
In the second browser window, go to http://www.bloglines.com
and choose Subscribe - it’s free.
next bit is tricky, but stay with me:
In browser where you have Bloglines, Under ‘My Feeds’
choose ‘Add’ find where it says ‘Blog or feed URL’
Go back to my blog in the other window, look down
the right column until you see where it says ‘Subscribe
me’ and underneath you’ll see a line that says ‘RSS
XHTML CSS 508′. Now, RIGHT CLICK on RSS and choose
‘Copy Shortcut’ and then go to the bloglines window
and Paste this into the space where it says ‘Blog
feed or URL’. If you’ve done it right, this should
go into the window:
Hit ‘Subscribe’ and then again ‘Subscribe’ on the
bottom of the next screen (which allows various
options such as folders for multiple blogs - don’t
worry about it for now.)
Result - You now have a ‘feed’ to my blog and whenever
I post an update it’ll show up in Bloglines and
you’ll see it. OK?
Now you can look at some other blogs you might like
to add in Bloglines. This is how you keep your eyes
on multiple sources of blog info without having
to go fetch it from each website in turn. You just
have to find the RSS or XML (same thing) button
on each blog. Usually you’ll find this button on
the left or right column. It might have a graphic
that says ‘XML’ or ‘RSS’. You just bookmark Bloglines.com.
It’s your one stop shop on the internet for dozens
of sources of information on your topic. How cool
to find Blogs that interest you:
Start by searching in Bloglines where it says ‘Search
all Blogs’ at the top of the page. Once the blog
shows in Bloglines click on the title to go to the
actual blog and find the RSS button. Then repeat
steps  -  above to add it to Bloglines. If
you have different topic areas then I suggest you
use the option [Create Folders] to organize the
blogs under different headings. You don’t need to
just read blogs on your speaking topic, there’s
blogs on every topic out there.
Other places to find blogs:
Google -> More -> Blog Search
- http://www.technorati.com -> Search
The single best place to find quality blogs is to
check out the sidebar on any blog that interests
you for blogs that author recommends. It’s usually
listed as a ‘Blogroll’. Look down the right side
of my blog and you’ll see a half-dozen on speechwriting
and PR. Click and check out any that interest.
Final tip. You can search Google News on your Topic.
Guess what? You can grab this as a feed as well!
Look to the right side and do the right-click thing
where it says ‘RSS’ and add it as a feed to Bloglines.
Hint: If you are searching for all the news on the
topic “National Speakers Association” be sure to
put it in quotes before you Google, or you’ll get
separate news on each word, not the phrase. This
also works if you search on Blogs using Google.
all folks! Happy blog reading.
About the Author:
Griffin is a speechwriter and communications
consultant. He blogs at http://www.exec-comms.com/blog
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