More about RSS

November 6, 2006 at 4:43 pm Leave a comment

The Bookselling Online Blog has just recently posted a neat little article on RSS feeds. Of course, I’m pretty elated about this, because whenever I mention RSS to anybody around me in the industry I look into vacant eyes and glazed expressions that suggest that the mention of the acronymn has somehow already transformed itself into a huge gumption trap. For some reason, people stop thinking or listening as soon as they hear the slightest hint of techno-jargon. So I always feel some encouragement when I read somebody else pushing forward on the technology front.

Nonetheless, I want to clear up a misconception that the BOB perpetuates in its article about feeds. The gist of the matter is the implication that you need to have an account with one of the newsreader services. This is just plain wrong. While using a newsreader service such as bloglines, or something similar, may give you a nice space to read your feeds. I prefer to use an application to do this. I run some software known as Akregator, which sits in the equivalent of my sytem tray all day and goes off to fetch feeds for me all the time. New articles are displayed briefly in a (generally unobtrusive) notification bubble and can be viewed directly in the application without me having to login to a particular site. Of course Akregator is linux software that is not available for Windows or Mac users, but there is a wealth of alternative software for users of other platforms. To begin with, both Firefox and IE7 have feed readers built into them. And I believe that the Thunderbird mail client by Mozilla is quite capable of subscribing to RSS feeds as well. So that your latest news will appear in a Folder group with your email. And if that doesn’t quite suit you, check out SharpReader for Windows, and NetNewsWire for Mac (as usual anything that works in an Apple environment will cost you something).

While this point may seem somewhat silly, I mention it for a number of reasons. Firstly, many people are very private about their browsing habits and the idea that in order to use RSS you need to hand over some personal details to a company that will monitor your interests for “free” (while handing over information to interested 3rd parties), puts a lot of people off the technology. Another point about this is the idea that you have to keep checking my feed site every day just to click on a bunch of links to other sites. This seems a bit silly, since the whole point of subscribing to a feed is that I am actually notified of changes to the sites I am interested. I don’t want to have to keep firing up my browser to check that something interesting has suddenly been posted online. And finally, I get a bunch of people asking if they can get emailed updates about our stock. Hell, you can use a decent email client and subscribe to a feed. It works better than email! 😉

Anyway, I don’t mean to rant about this stuff. Its excellent to discover that there are other people out there interested in this sort of technology. So well done to the Bookselling Online Blog for posting the article. And for the rest of you still confused about RSS… please go to wikipedia and read about Web Feeds and RSS.

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