At last night’s blog meeting, everyone kinda laughed when I suggested someone who is interested in starting to use an aggregator, but is new to blogs and feeds, select a system with a built-in aggregator as a way for him to tinker with aggregators and subscribing to feeds. I think some people balked because of the particular system I suggested. Many people find that it doesn’t meet their needs, but it’s easy to use, it would be free for him, and it’s a start.
Another benefit is that it comes with a list of feeds other users of the system have subscribed to with the option to easily subscribe to those feeds. To someone who doesn’t know much about the world of feeds and all the things that have feeds, being able to look at a list of hundreds of feeds other users have selected can be quite helpful. He’ll quickly learn that some popular Web sites offer feeds, as do many news sources. He can easily start receiving the feeds to some blogs he’s interested in, which are on the list already. It’s also really easy to subscribe to feeds not on the list.
Some of the nice features include ways to view all of the posts from one feed, links to the source, the feed, and, if they’re available in the feed, a link for comments and the permalink.
Some people don’t like that it has a limit to what it can hold, so items often roll off the aggregator (i.e. disappear) before someone sees them. It doesn’t have a lot of the features more robust aggregators have, like the ability to save or categorize items, subscribe to Atom feeds, or post based on something in the aggregator.
A built-in aggregator, to me, is one step up from a blog roll–the list of links many people have on a navbar showing what they read. What would be on my list is in my aggregator. Instead of just getting a few linked words, people can actually easily get some of the content from the sources I read. And the aggregator also has the key links to subscribe to a source, so someone doesn’t necessarily have to hunt for those things on their own. This can be particularly important for feeds created by third parties.
Besides, it’s one less application/program I have to load each day. I can read it while I’m playing with that blog.
Having a built-in aggregator can be incredibly useful. I would love to be able to employ one on NewsliBlog. I think it would facilitate resource sharing among news librarians siginificantly, as well as helping to answer the question “What could I as a news librarian do with a blog?”