Disclaimer: The opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily reflect my actual opinions.

December 06, 2004


So I just rediscovered Bloglines. I say "rediscovered" because I've been aware of it for a while, but didn't really grasp how cool it is until I checked it out again this afternoon (or, possibly, the really nifty stuff has been added since I last looked).

Bloglines is an online web syndication (or "feed") browser. What this means, essentially, is that certain sites (blogs in particular, but also some news services etc.) allow their content to be accessed and republished by outside parties via special interfaces called RSS and Atom. In other words, when you set up an account (for free) on Bloglines you tell it what sites you like to read every day and, if that site has an RSS or Atom feed, Bloglines will trot off and grab the content from that site and display it to you within the Bloglines site itself.

Why is this useful, or even any different from visiting the web site itself? Well, the difference is that Bloglines has a little sidebar with a list of all the sites you've subscribed to and -- here's where it gets cool -- it knows whether the site has been updated since you last visited it and, if so, how many new posts (or news stories, or other pieces of content) there are. Thus instead of going through a dozen bookmarks to check if any of them have anything new to read, you simply go to your Bloglines page and can see at a glance if there's been an update. Think of it as a bit like email, only with web sites.

If that's all there was to it I'd not be particularly excited about it (yes, I'm excited about it. Snide comments welcome). That's how RSS and Atom work, and I've been using a similar standalone program called NetNewsWire Lite to read feeds for ages. What makes Bloglines so damn cool is that unlike NetNewsWire Lite it's able to read not just RSS and Atom feeds but also pages from Xanga, LiveJournal, the new Google Groups 2 service, Yahoo! Groups, Topix.net and can even pretend that an email mailing list is a feed too, showing it along with the "real" feeds in the sidebar.

This means that I can check every single site I read on a regular basis, from Reuters headlines to a bunch of blogs (including, finally, Xanga) in one place and without having to check each manually to see if there's anything new, saving me vital seconds every day. If that doesn't deserve a w00t I don't know what does.

Go out and sign up for Bloglines immediately, and then of course add my blog to your subscriptions. Because it's what all the cool people do.

Yes, I'm a nerd.


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