There are a hell of a lot of blogs out there. I’ve just spent the last couple of hours surfing through garden-related blogs, and though you have to wade through a lot of unripe compost to find the good stuff, I did come across a few that are worth keeping track of. The name of the launch-pad for my evening exploration says it all: More Blogs Than You Have Time To Read.
That brings the number of blogs I check in on regularly up to 57. Fifty freaking seven!!! It would take me hours if I had to surf to each one of these sites every day to see if there’s something new to read. But it doesn’t. My secret? Well, not so secret, the early-adopter types latched on to it ages ago: RSS feeds and a news aggregator.
It sounds complicated, but it really isn’t. Basically, you get something called a “news aggregator”, which automatically scans the blogs you want to keep track of for new entries, and presents them to you all in one place. Sometimes it’s just a synopsis of the new entry, sometimes it’s the whole article, but there’s always a link to it. Easy to scan, easy to read or ignore, without a whole lot of surfing.
The “news aggregator” is just a piece of software. Like your email, it can be something that resides on your computer — for example, Microsoft Outlook. Here’s an aggregator that you have to download and install — it’s good, but it costs money: NetNewsWire. Better yet is an aggregator that’s online, like Hotmail, and free: Bloglines.
How do you tell the news aggregator thingy what sites to keep track of?? Well, the site has to have an RSS feed. Whoa, you say, what’s an “RSS feed”? Scroll down the left column of this page, and below the list of photo albums you’ll see a link called “Syndicate this site (XML)”. Clicking on this starts to download a file, but we don’t care about that; all you really need to know is the name of that file, which in my case is “http://offpollen.typepad.com/pollenatrix/index.rdf”. That’s my “RSS feed”. Then you plunk this RSS feed address into the news aggregator (i.e. “subscribe”), and voila, it’s now on the roster.
And you bloggers out there, who don’t have an RSS feed on your sites…. ANNOYING!!! Imagine we’re back in the 70’s, and telephone answering machines have just been invented, and you don’t have one yet. Hello!!! Go get one!! No one has the time to keep dialling your number until somebody picks up the phone…
By the way, here are a couple of my evening blog finds:
Horticultural, a personal blog written by an editor of the UK newspaper, The Guardian.
Garden + Living, nice pictures, good writing, but no rss feed… booo
And my all time favourite, Devil’s Excrement. To quote the tag line, “In Spanish one word for orchid collector is quite fitting: “orquidiota” or “orchididiot” in English. I confess being one.”