No time for surfing, get a 'newsreader' as secretary
Monday, 29 January 2007, 06:00 Hrs
Munich: The Internet is full of information: online newspapers, stock reports, weather reports and blogs. Navigating to each of those individual pages takes a great deal of time. Newsreaders, software to automatically collect the latest articles or entries from web sites that you select, handle the dirty work for you. "Imagine that you have a secretary who looks around for you and sorts out everything important," says Siegfried Hirsch, a Munich-based expert in knowledge management and social software. "That's the gist of newsreaders." Hirsch sees news feeds as offering powerful benefits: "You can, for example, look at a list of current articles or entries directly on your desktop, without spam." Frequent blog readers are also good candidates for newsreaders. The programs send an alert every time a new entry is made on a favourite blog, for example. The user can then opt to go directly to the new article on the original site. Newsfeeds are generally composed in either the RSS (Really Simple Syndication) or Atom formats. Many web sites contain small orange rectangular buttons to show that they provide a feed. To subscribe to a feed, the surfer need only add the link address for one of those buttons into a newsreader. Many readers handle that task automatically. To call up feeds, a newsreader must first be installed on the surfer's computer. These are widely available for free on the Internet, as on the site RSS Info (http://www.blogspace.com/rss/readers). Once properly set up, newsreaders allow users to follow multiple Internet sites quickly and easily. Newsreaders can thank the blogger scene for their "thunderous popularity", says Michael Charlier, who operates a blog portal in Berlin. Few users have the time or desire to monitor blogs for new articles. It's much easier to put a newsreader to work and then view the articles or entries as they are updated. "Then you can quickly check in on your favourite blogs once an hour, let's say," Charlier says.