Friday, February 13, 2009

Are Ess Ess? (Things 8 and 9)

I have to admit to being something of an old hand at RSS. However, it's been a long time since I visited Bloglines, so I went back there and looked at some of my old subscriptions. In the process, though, I noticed that there's an RSS icon on the Internet Explorer toolbar:

So I began playing around with that. It turns out the Favorites Center in the library's current version of Internet Explorer has a place for feeds. If you click on the star to the left of your tabs, you can see where they show up.

It's not as full-featured as a real RSS reader, but it's a neat way to add a few feeds to the PC at the reference desk for downtime reading. Fun!

...and then he read Thing #9 and felt really foolish. Heh. Guess I didn't discover anything exciting.

Several of my co-Thingers have remarked that the number of RSS feeds available is overwhelming enough without using something like Technorati to add to the load. With that in mind, here are my capsule reviews: I'm using a search for the term "librarian" to compare them.

Bloglines search - I'm partial to Bloglines since I've used it so much, and its utilitarian look appeals to me. I tend to like a stripped-down screen without much going on.
Search Results: Bloglines searches both posts and blogs at the same time, giving results for posts in the main window, blogs on a right-hand sidebar. I really like the automatic option to subscribe to the search, allowing me to just let Bloglines do it all for me.
Membership: Being a member of Bloglines allows you to immediately subscribe to feeds you find through the search, but not much else. Bloglines remains very focused on RSS.

Syndic8 - Having praised Bloglines' simplistic design, I have to say that Syndic8 looks amateurish.
Search Results: Syndic8 assumes that your search is for entire blogs/feeds, not posts. As I've fooled around with it, I don't see any way to search for posts at all. I do like the tabular form of the results, though. Very easy to read and understand.
Membership: Becoming a member of Syndic8 is more like becoming an employee. They immediately put you to work reviewing feeds for inclusion in their database!

Topix - Topix is clearly intended as a portal more than a search tool. There's a whole lot happening on the front page. It's pretty overwhelming.
Search Results: Here is the opposite of Syndic8's approach. The default is to search posts, and again, I don't see a way to switch.
Membership: Topix goes far beyond simple RSS syndication into the realm of social networking, with its own discussion forums and other features.

Technorati - All about the popularity, which has its place, but I'm not sure that's the best thing when I'm searching for new content. I tend to avoid the mainstream and popular as a general rule.
Search Results: I have to say, Technorati impresses me here. I like the way the results are laid out, and especially the prominent "filter" options that would let me switch from the default posts search to one of blogs. I love the little graph showing how often your search term has been mentioned in the past month, with the tempting offer to compare with another term. Is "librarian" or "library" more popular?
Membership: The most important feature of Technorati membership is the ability to "claim" your blog. You verify that you own a particular blog, and then you can track its popularity and see where other people have linked to your posts. That's a neat feature.

So, that's my take on the four feed searches. What are your thoughts?

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