Sunday, February 18, 2007

Monitoring Blogs without Going Crazy

So by now, you’ve been reading several blogs. But if you’re doing so by remembering their URLs and going to each one individually, you soon learn that it takes way too much time. That’s what aggregators are for (made possible by RSS feeds, as we learned in January).

Some RSS readers, like the Google or Yahoo home page you set up last month are real handy. But there are better options for monitoring several blogs at once. These include: Bloglines, Blogpulse and quite a few more. I personally first tried using Technorati’s watch list, but it was not the right tool for this purpose.

So for this lesson, your homework is to set up a free account with one of these services to monitor blogs.

Then, when you see a blog you want to keep tabs on, you’ll subscribe to its feed. Each day or so, you can go to that service to see all the new headlines of the blogs you are monitoring. It’ll tell you which ones have new posts. Some will even show you the entire text of each blog post, so you can quickly scan the contents. At any time, you can click to view a particular blog in a new window (e.g., to leave a comment). There are also features to save blog posts as “clippings” to refer to later and to share your blog list with someone else.

Below are steps for setting up a Bloglines, only because it’s the one I know best.

• Go to
• Sign up for a free account.
• Put a one-click subscribe button on your browser toolbar. (It’ll save you tons of time.) Click on “subscribe” and then click on “easy subscribe button.” Follow the instructions. I suggest putting this button on both your home computer and your work computer.
• Start subscribing to blogs.
• When you are ready to monitor, click on the “Feeds” tab.

There are other features to explore as you get more accustomed to the service.

Next time, we’ll talk about how to find blogs to monitor.

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