How do people read blogs? Some advice.

I spoke to someone recently who apologetically noted that she didn’t read my blog: the context was a lack of time.

I can understand this, in one way. Who has time to visit dozens of sites, even weekly? The problem: blogs look like static billboards or bulletin boards. To see if a bulletin board has changed, you visit it — and pin up a note if you have one. But it takes an effort to visit each and every blog or bulletin board, and one’s not likely to do it very often.

But that’s not the only way to read them. Most blogs — certainly any built on a modern service or software; my apologies to any who still homebrew their blogs — can be read in a non-bulletin-board way: through a feed reader.

This blog publishes my blog posts and your comments in a format that’s easy for web services or software to consolidate — the preferred term is aggregate, but here the meaning is the same — into a running stream. Most of these web services or software will show you headlines and beginning text the newest posts of the blogs you like, making it easy to scan them. Most of these web services or software have a facility to subscribe to a blog automatically. So you go one place to keep up, and within the software or web service, you can often tag, promote or annotate interesting posts, so you can refer back to them if needed.

So what are these web services or software? Google Reader is an obvious choice if you like Google products. But since I’m (unsuccessfully) trying to not give Google all my business, I use a free-standing feed reader. LiFeRea, since I use a Linux computer, but there are options for other operating systems.

But those just starting or only interested in a few feeds, a browser-based tool might work well. Sage, for Firefox, is the kind of thing I mean.

Categorized as Bloggers

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. I am simply going to note that I am usually a late adopter of new technology. I tend to read blogs the way I do most websites. I check them every few days, and read the postings that are new to me.

  2. I use Google Reader. For mobile access I use a combination of the Google mobile app and the MobileRSS app for iPhone. But, like Derek, I also read blogs by actually going to the website. It depends on what I’m doing at any given moment. If I’m in a more laid back, surfing-the-web type of mood, I’m more likely to go to the actual blog. But if I’m out and about or away from my desk-top and I need a quick distraction I’ll refer to my RSS feeds (via iPhone).

  3. As a follower of the Dark Side, I use Microsoft Outlook for everything, and it does a fine job of pulling down RSS feeds, making a folder for each one of them, and they show up in the aggregate Unread Mail list.

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