Syndication is not a new technology, but it has gained popularity and mainstream attention as personal weblogs have exploded onto the Web. Simply put, a syndicated feed is a machine-readable representation of frequently updated content. As bloggers post new articles, their publishing software automatically updates their syndicated feed with headlines, links, and excerpts—or even the full article content.
Feeds are not limited to weblogs. Do you read news online? Most major news sites offer syndicated feeds, so you can keep up to date without visiting dozens of sites to find the latest news. Many offer category-specific feeds, so you can track only the articles you care about. There are even feed-specific search engines that allow you to subscribe to a keyword search and automatically find new topic-specific articles anywhere on the Web.
To subscribe to a syndicated feed, you need a news aggregator, a specialized software application that manages feeds across hundreds of thousands of sites. There are many such programs to choose from, for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and every other operating system. I personally use Bloglines ( http://www.bloglines.com), a web-based news aggregator. It is fast, free, and lets me stay up to date regardless of where I am or whose computer I’m borrowing.
The hacks in this chapter will help you get the most out of syndication and syndicated feeds.
Bloglines already ...