Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How to Follow a Blog - It's Really Simple! Part 1 of 2

You may be an avid blog reader, or you may just be starting to notice the wonders of Blogland (my guess would be you're noticing blogs because of Pinterest).  Either way, you'll eventually find that there are some blogs you really like, and maybe you haven't figured out a way to easily check each of them to see if they have new content.

The first thing most of us try is simply bookmarking each site.  Then, you sit down with your computer, open each bookmark separately, wait for the site to come up, and look to see if a new post has been published.  This works, except when you are on a different computer, or you can't remember if you've read the post or not.  (And if you're not at your own computer, it can be maddening to try to remember your favorites, and to find them in the vast world of the internets if you don't know the exact URL of the blog.  Also some URLs are hard to type; my blog is a perfect example!)

There exists, my friends, a better way.  Several better ways, in fact, depending on the blog's options.

Better Way #1:  Get an email when new content is published 
On many blogs (including this one, hint, hint!) you can also choose to subscribe using your email.  Notice the boxes on the right - there's one which allows you to insert your email address to subscribe.  Each time a new post is published, you'll get an email!   

Better Way #2:  RSS feed to your Browser
The (usually) orange button you'll find on most blogs is a link to an RSS feed.  This stands for Really Simple Syndication (which you don't really need to know.)  RSS sends a feed directly to your browser.  It's similar to a bookmark, but better!  Just look!  Here's a sample screen shot.  You can see that this person (who must be smart, because she is reading my daughter's StarCityRunner blog; Hi, Tory!)  has subscribed to several blogs (they look like bookmarks until you get a bunch of them, and then they show up as a pull-down list).  When you click on one the drop-down menu shows you which posts you've already read and which are new content (in this case, PancakesandFrenchFries; Hi, Jules! This is definitely the browser of a smart reader.)   This person has 7 unread posts by Jules waiting (what a treat!), the newest at the top.  The three with the ampersand logo have already been read.

To create your own browser feed, you simply click the "Subscribe to Posts" button (or comments, if you'd like to be notified when people comment on the blog).  New windows will come up with more clicking:

On this one, click Atom to add to your browser
On this one, click on View Feed XML to add to your browser.

You'll then click "Subscribe Now" and maybe once more, and you'll see the "bookmark" show up on your browser.
Unfortunately this doesn't solve the problem of making your blog list transportable - it still exists on just the one computer.  To make your list accessible wherever you go, you'll want to create a Reader.  You'll love it!

Tomorrow, I'll show you how to create and use Google Reader to follow your favorite blogs.  In the meantime, if you want more information, I've shared these posts with my college students to help them understand how to follow blogs (we were building our Professional Learning Networks).  You might find them interesting.

Questions?  Something I could have explained better?  Leave a comment!

1 comment:

  1. Great directions Pam. I will be getting notifications via e-mail and I also had the blogs show up on my Google Homepage.

    BTW I subscribed to Tory's blog also.