JD Is Another RSS Convert!.
News That Comes to You
[The Shifted Librarian]
“Instead of the hunt and peck of Web surfing, you can download or buy a small program that turns your computer into a voracious media hub, letting you snag headlines and news updates as if you were commanding the anchor desk at CNN….
Here’s how it works. You fire up one of the news readers (also called news aggregators), subscribe to certain sites from a directory of thousands of choices — say, BBC Online, ESPN, Salon, the Chippewa (Wis.) Herald and Bangkok News — and bingo, you’re in business. Whenever you sign on, a directory pane lets you see the most recent updates for each channel you’ve subscribed to. Within each channel you’ll typically see a half dozen headlines and perhaps a summary, the entire item, and occasionally an accompanying photo. Want to dive in further? Click on a link and you’re transported directly to the source’s Web site. Some programs run through a Web browser, others through a standalone program. Most are free….
No, this isn’t The Next Big Thing, and no, it won’t make Web browsing obsolete. But from a news publication’s vantage point, RSS allows a news site to instantly syndicate its content without any third parties involved. Internet news feeds give news organizations another way to reach that most elusive of creatures: the wired, tech-savvy professional. And you can bet that within a year or so, students will be latching onto RSS subscriptions in a big way….
Scot Hacker, webmaster for the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, downloaded NetNewsWire (slogan: ‘More news, less junk. Faster.’) for a class several months ago. ‘Within 10 minutes time I became convinced that RSS was going to become an incredibly important piece of Web publishing,’ he says. ‘I think of RSS like TiVo — it lets me spend the same amount of time to take in a lot more media. For me it’s not about speed, it’s about saving time. I’m able to distill information much more efficiently.’
Roger Turner, a freelance software developer in London who inspects his 218 news feeds five to 10 times a day, agrees. ‘Using a news aggregator has transformed the way I interact with the Web. News comes to me, on my terms. I feel in touch with 10 to 100 times as many sites as before RSS, with less effort….’
To reach truly large numbers of users, news readers will need to become integrated with other applications. Michael Krus, a Parisian who started NewsIsFree three years ago with a colleague in Switzerland because he grew tired of surfing to the same sites every day, says he thinks tying news readers to a Web browser, e-mail program or instant messaging program is the next logical step. ‘That would be a killer app,’ he says.
Among the developments already under way: The open-source Mozilla
browser and Netscape 7 come with sidebars that can display RSS feeds. There are news readers for handheld devices, and one being tested now that uses a ticker format to display headlines non-stop in the top line of your browser, like TV Headline News. Just double-click any headline to read the story.” [Online Journalism Review]