If you’ve been reading blogs for any length of time, you know how quickly you can find a couple dozen blogs (or more!) in your bookmarks. If you’re really organized, you’ll create a separate bookmarks folder just for blog sites, but even then you still have to check each one individually. This can take some time (especially if you’re on dial-up like me), and usually there’s a good percentage of them that haven’t been updated since you last visited.
The solution? News aggregators, or feed readers. I use Bloglines*. In a nutshell, I subscribe to the blogs I want to stay on top of, then I go to one website, my Bloglines page, where all the new posts of my subscribed blogs appear in one window. It is so simple, and such a time saver. I am currently subscribed to 16 blogs, and it actually takes me less time to keep up to date with those than it did when I was checking 5 or 6 individually. And I don’t have to worry about forgetting any.
Here’s a screenshot of my Bloglines page. In the left column are the list of subscribed blogs; the unread posts appear in the right column, either separately (if I click on an individual blog on the left) or all together (if I click on the “Dale’s Blogs” folder). Only the unread posts will be shown in the right column, and after they are read they will not appear again – unless you want them to, in which case you simply check the box marked “Keep new”.
And I have it set up so it’s really easy to subscribe to a blog. In my Bookmarks Bar (see above) there is a link called “Sub with Bloglines”. When I visit a blog that I decide I want to subscribe to, I simply click on that link and it takes me to my Bloglines page where I add the new blog to my list.
Incidentally, aggregators such as Bloglines can also be used to subscribe to online newspapers, comic strips, weather forecasts, podcasts and more – anything with an RSS feed. I think this is an incredibly useful tool.
* Update (January 2016): As explained here, Bloglines is no longer available.