April 1, 2005

Keeping Up With Your Favorite Blogs

There are several excellent atheist blogs out there, not to mention the many news portals gathering information of interest to atheists, agnostics, and other freethinkers. How does one cope with the volume of information, staying current without getting overwhelmed?

What if there was a program that would automatically inform you every time your favorite blogs were updated or every time a news story was published anywhere in the world dealing with topics relevant to atheism (e.g., Ten Commandments, Christian right, church and state, etc.)? And what if it was possible to do this without adding clutter to your email? If this sounds appealing, then it is time to discover the world of RSS feeds.

For a brief explanation of RSS and what it can do for you, start with this tutorial. Now that you have some idea what RSS is all about, it is time to get an RSS reader. There are many great web-based options (e.g., Feedly) that can be handy when cloud syncing across multiple devices is desired. Personally, I prefer to use dedicated software since I don't read RSS feeds anywhere but a desktop computer. When I first started blogging, I used FeedReader before it was discontinued. I then moved on to FeedDemon until it too was discontinued. I currently use NetNewsWire or Vienna when I'm on a Mac and QuiteRSS when I'm on a PC.

Once you have your RSS reader of choice, it is time to set up some feeds. Most atheist blogs will have them. The Atheist Revolution feed can be accessed here. All you have to do is cut and paste the URL into your reader. Clicking on the orange XML button you will find on many sites will do the same thing. Once set up, your reader will bring you each post or article so that you can decide whether or not they are worth checking out. Most reputable news sites offer RSS feeds too (e.g., CNN, Yahoo, USAToday, etc.), so it is relatively easy to stay on top of the sort of news that interests you.

When you are ready to discover the real power of RSS, head over to Yahoo and scroll down the page until you see "Create your own RSS news feeds" and see the search box. Enter a keyword of your choice in this search box, and Yahoo will create a personalized RSS feed for you. For example, if you enter "atheist," an RSS feed will be created that will pull news stories from around the world in which the word "atheist" appears. This is a great way to track news about topics that are of interest to you.