Blogs vs Social Media; RSS & Feedly

I’ve kept a personal blog for a long time, although I haven’t been posting to it much recently. That’s my bad.

The problem is Social Media sites like Facebook, and how they seem to have become the universal way to connect with friends. I’ve been through the same cycle myself several times; where I post about stuff I want to keep on my blog – almost like a diary, I guess – while trivial stuff I post to Facebook, along with occasional links on Facebook to something I have written here. But because the Facebook posts get far more reaction from people than my posts here – even the Facebook posts pointing back to here – I get sucked in and gradually start posting everything over there.

But I far prefer my blog to Facebook for important stuff. Try finding a post you made about a concert last year on Facebook – it is possible, but a pain. Try finding a post a *friend* made a year ago, it is almost impossible. Whereas with a blog, it is not only searchable, but it can be indexed in a dozen different ways.

The trouble with a blog is that you can go to Facebook and see what all your friends have posted (at least the posts that FB deigns to show you), but with a blog you have to visit each and every friend’s blog separately, no?

No. That’s what RSS is for. RSS (Really Simple Syndication) has been around for years. It is a way to subscribe to multiple blogs – different friends, or different things that interest your, and be notified of new posts, and be able to read them in a unified form. You don’t need to remember to check your friend’s blog, you will be told next time they post something.

It went out of fashion for a while, but there are some really good RSS clients around now, and it seems to be coming back in fashion.

To use it, the blog needs to support RSS, of course, but many do, and WordPress does by default, even if the blogger doesn’t realise it. It is just there, unless deliberately disabled. So for a blog with an URL “http://www.filklore.com/wordpress/”, the RSS feed will normally be at “http://www.filklore.com/wordpress/rss”. But if you look at that with your browser, you will see the page just filling with words. To use RSS, you need a client.

These days, I recommend Feedly. It is easy to use, in multiple ways:

  1. It can be used via their website, simply by logging in.
  2. There are apps, both for Apple and Android.
  3. There are browser extensions, Firefox and Chrome, and maybe more

But the great thing is, you can use all 3, at different times, and they will be synchronised, so that when you are “caught up” in one, you are “caught up” in all. This is why I particularly like Feedly, because it does it all.

You can also categorise your feeds. So I have categories for Friends, Cooking, Politics, Local Politics etc., and I can choose to just check up on my friends, or perhaps my cooking blogs, and leave the rest for another time. You also have the choice of reading individual articles within Feedly itself, or follow links to the original articles.

When you first go to Feedly, they will take you to the differently priced options. But rest assured there is a Free option as well, that supports up to 100 different feeds. I’d suggest you try that first.

So using RSS and Feedly, you can read multiple blogs, just as easy as you read Facebook. Give it a try!