This wasn’t the first time that I’d used RSS. On the homepage of my blog, I’d used a couple of RSS widgets to get my movie and book reviews in the sidebar. It’s easy to do, it adds some nice content for the blog, and it’s really low-maintenance.
This week, though, I’d used RSS in a way I never had before. I downloaded the Opera web browser (which is actually pretty cool, although I still like Firefox) and set up an RSS aggregator in it. It’s convenient in some ways. I’m a person who always has a browser window open all the time with a bunch of tabs active. Right now, for example, I have eight open tabs: The New York Times, my Morningside email, Facebook, LinkedIn, Moodle, Digg, a news story on NPR, and the Dashboard for this blog. If I were to use this aggregator, I could reduce some of the clutter and close some of these tabs (the Times, Digg, and NPR) and just get my news and entertainment via RSS.
But I feel like I’m losing something by doing that. Let’s face it, the aggregator is ugly. Everything is black and white text with blue links. Nothing more. Occasionally there’s a photo, depending on which site the content is coming from, but not usually. Sometimes the entire article isn’t even displayed in the aggregator. Instead, I have to click a link to go to the actual site. Using the aggregator also takes away the functionality of some sites like Digg. To “digg” an article, for example, I have to click a link in my aggregator to go to the actual story on Digg. How useful is that? At this point, I think I’d rather just ditch the aggregator and go to the sites themselves.
At any rate, here’s some of the interesting stuff I got from my RSS aggregator.
The Devil We Know (NY Times editorial from Ross Douthat. I thought he did a great job of explaining why everything is hard to accomplish in the Middle East.)
How to Stop Advertisers from Tracking Your Browsing Habits (Article on MacLife explaining some privacy extensions for Safari, Firefox, and Chrome. I plan on installing and messing around with one of these soon.)
The dangers of the Wii (funny video posted on Digg)