I have fallen completely head over heals for RSS and XML News feeds. In fact, I would say that it’s the primary method that I use to keep up with news and the web in general. What I like about it is that instead of having to remember to go check out your favorite web sites, the web sites come to you. Typically referred to as “push” technology, news feeds provide you with the latest headlines and allow you to keep up with a site without having to remember to visit it.
Now you may be wondering, why in the world would a web site give you their headlines instead of making you come to their web site and view the content? By pushing the headlines to you in a news feed, aren’t they in a sense cutting their own traffic? Quite the opposite. With a news feed, your readership can stay up-to-date with the your web site and have your news brought to their doorstep. Since all you’re providing is the headline, the user must come to your site to read the content. In other words, news feeds actually increase your overall traffic. 🙂
If you look at an RSS feed by itself, it will look like gibberish [link], so how do you use news feeds as a user? Well, luckily there are plenty of applications that can help render these feeds for you. For starters, if you’re a Trillian Pro user, I’d suggest that you try the News Plugin first. It’s a quick and easy way to integrate news feeds with a program you’re already using. If you’re not a Trillian Pro user, or you simply have too many feeds to manage effectively (if you’re anal retentive like me), then I recommend NewsDesk for Windows, or NetNewsWire Lite for Mac OS X. There’s plenty of other software options to choose from if you don’t like my suggestions.
The software that I ended up choosing is Klip Folio. Why did I choose Klip Folio? Well, for one thing, I’m not a fan of Internet Explorer. NewsDesk is built using Microsoft’s .NET technology, and any link I click on defaults to IE, instead of Opera, my preferred browser. Secondly, I love the user interface. It doesn’t eat up my desktop and “klips” flash when something has been updated. The only downside is that you have to create a custom klip if the news feed you’re using doesn’t have a klip created for you. It’s not hard, but it’s not as point and click for as those sites that have klips, such as this site.
For those of you that were on the Internet “back in the day,” may recall another cool program that did something similar called PointCast? I loved that program, but unfortunately, it never quite took off. In fact, if you read the previous link, you’ll see that back in 1999, the article comments “Today, push is passe. On the rare occasions when the term is used, it’s usually in the question: ‘Whatever happened to push?'” Well, it appears to be alive and well and thriving just nicely thanks. 😀 In the immortal words of Devo, “I say klip it!”