How to keep on top of your web habit….

I occasionally give a little workshop at the Library about tips and tricks on how to manage the websites you follow. Out of the kindness of my heart, I thought I'd share a few things….

Most websites today generate a "syndication feed", usually known by the generic acronym "RSS". This feed is then picked up by a "news aggregator", which can be anything from a software program you install locally on your machine, to a website you sign up for (like Yahoomail or Googlemail), that collects the feed(s). Whenever the website you are following is updated, a second update is sent out via the RSS feed, and your news aggregator will pick it up, notifying you. All of which is to say you can see updates to multiple websites all at a single location. Usually you read an excerpt of the new story, though occasionally it will be the entire story or just the headline. A link is always provided so you can read the story in full. By ways of example, the Squid Wrangler page generates a feed for both blog entries and comments

Okay, so that's the background. Now the recommendation: there are oodles of news aggregators out there. My preference is for one that is web-based, as then you can read your feeds at any computer with an internet connection, and the service I use is Netvibes which is, like a lot of things on the 'net these days, free. Netvibes is a sort of virtual desktop. Not only will it allow you to set up your feeds, but it will autodetect them (so you don't have to search the website for the RSS link), organize them by drag and drop, colour coding, etc. You can import your email (Pop or Web mail), a Flickr image feed, or an online calendar and so on.

I now keep track of my favourite newspapers from around the world, political blogs, my schedule…pretty much my entire online life (the only thing missing is a feed from the VUL). And it's cut down on the time I spend on this habit dramatically.

All hail efficiency!

Other recommendations:

30boxes: A web-based calendar, based on the iCal format, that you can keep track of your schedule. Web Calendars have been around for many years, but the newest ones like 30boxes are really flexible. You can even import the schedules of your favourite TV shows, sports teams, "This day in Liberian history", etc….

Flickr: Probably most people have heard of Flickr by now, but just in case: this made-in-Vancouver image hosting service has become a bit of a phenom. You can store 100 images at a time for free, or pay $US 30/yr to store an unlimited number.

WordPress.com: is what this website uses. It's a blog-hosting service basically. It has the most features, and is just dead easy to use. And, of course, completely free. If you are going on trip, or attending/hosting a conference, this is the easiest way to keep others up to date.

Del.icio.us: free, online bookmarking service that allows you to categorize the links you want to save. Using the Del.icio.us plugin for Firefox, you can quickly store and categorize those stories you want to save.

Firefox: this is a web browser, a competitor to Microsoft's Internet Explorer, which if you are not using means you are missing out on what a modern web browser can do. Plus, it's more secure.

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1 Response to “How to keep on top of your web habit….”



  1. 1 Managing your online time efficiently « architeuthis Trackback on June 5, 2007 at 1:27 pm

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