Posts Tagged “blogging”

RSS is not dead

While trawling through my RSS feeds looking for blogs to unsubscribe from, I came across Andrew Chen’s blog post about his decision to completely remove the RSS feed from his site.

As of today, I’ve removed the links the RSS feeds on this blog, and ultimately will phase them out completely in favor of email.

RSS I quit you.. by Andrew Chen

Not a wise decision in my eyes and here’s why.

Your inbox isn’t an RSS reader

Using email to subscribe to web sites only works for a handful of blogs. You could comfortably subscribe to about five blogs and you would be able to manange reading a few emails a week from these blogs if they were not to frequent. Doing this for anything in the double digits number of blogs is a bad idea.

I don’t want to flood my inbox with tons of emails from different blogs. Thats why I use RSS. That’s why I use a RSS reader. I subscribe to the sites that I want to follow and then I can batch my reading of those sites to a time that suits me.

It’s convenient and it works.

RSS isn’t dead

Many people are starting to wonder if Google Feedburner will be next for the chop from Google but even if it was to be shut down, that’s no indication to say that RSS is dying or dead. All it says is that Google isn’t interested in dealing with a an RSS product.

RSS is alive and well everywhere. You can still find RSS feeds for millions of blogs and websites and Feedly are doing a great job of bringing over hundreds of people from Google Reader to their feed reading service. In the last few years there have a number of great RSS feed readers released on tablets and smartphones so that you read on the go.

Completely removing the RSS feed from your blog is a bad idea. After reading Andrew’s post I found another website that I can unsubscribe from.

Sorry Andrew.

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Do you blog for you or your readers?

Content is king. I hear this a lot when people refer to what drives the popularity of their blog. Which is okay when your blog is targeted as a specific audience, but does the same rule apply when your blog is personal?

Let me re-phrase that. Is your blog for you or your readers?

I’ve been very much of the mind that my blog has an audience. Not a specific audience but an audience all the same. My audience likes what I write. Since moving to Octopress though, I have been struggling about what to do with the content of my tumblelog. My heart says to include all the content here, but my head says no.

My tumblelog is a mixed bag of stuff including fixies, tech news and an assortment of links to my favourite posts on the blogs that I like to read. I like posting these things as it’s what I like, but I’d still like to continue with a daily essay style post.

One way to maintain two audiences but in the same blog is to provide another RSS feed for readers to subscribe to. One feed will default to only the daily posts that I write while another feed will provide the full assortment of posts to enjoy. This way I hope to blog for myself but also keep the interest of readers in mind by not polluting their feed with posts they don’t want to read.

If you continue to enjoy the daily posting routine of myself then stick with the current RSS feed. If you want something more varied then why not think about subscribing to the full assortment of stuff I’ll be posting? The new feed will be ready early next week and of course I’ll be posting the details here.

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A little idea for monitoring RSS feeds

The loss of Google Reader as an RSS reader is a great shame but one thing that I am definitely going to miss is the trends page of Google Reader. This page provided data on what you’ve been reading and when you were reading it. Not only that but you could see what blogs you are following are active and which are not.

I use the last feature as a way of unsubscribing from blogs that are no longer active. Every month I look back to see which blogs were not active over the last three months and unsubscribe from them.

So now that Google Reader is being killed off, what do I do about the tracking of the blogs that I follow?

Due to the lack of products that I could find that do this, I thought about rolling my own RSS watch list so that I could see which blogs were not active over a given time period.

The idea is simple. You upload your OPML file of your RSS feeds and the watch list will monitor your feeds on a daily basis always checking to see when content on each blog feed was last posted. Alerts are emailed to you when a feed stops posting after a number of days that you specify.

A simple idea and one that I hope that I can build in the next few weeks.

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Why You Should Blog

I’m pretty chuffed with my blogging habits lately. I’ve covered different topics recently and I’m getting the odd comment here and there. I’m not too bothered about getting masses of people to subscribe to my blog, because that’s not what this about.

There’s 2 main reasons why I’m blogging.

1. It’s good practice for writing

I’m a massive book reader. I’ve been reading fantasy and sci-fi books since I was a kid. When I was in school I spent a fair bit of writing short stories. Then computers became mainstream and I got sucked into programming for the next 20 years.

A couple of years ago I decided I wanted to re-ignite my writing habits and so to give myself some practice, I started blogging about mind mapping. When I exhausted my knowledge of mind mapping, I turned to general blogging about anything and everything.

The whole point of this is that when you’re blogging, you’re writing. When you blog a lot, you write a lot and eventually, well hopefully, you’ll get better at it. I’m hoping that with all this blogging, I’ll become a better writer.

2. It’s out there for everyone to see

Writing for yourself is a great way to get ideas down on paper, but if you want the instant reviews and critique from people then where better than on a blog. Now your writing is out there for all the world to see and criticise.

Don’t be put down by negative feedback though, yes there will be people who criticise the small things, but in that feedback you’ll be able to filter for the negative positive criticisms. Negative, because someone may comment on your writing in a way that you don’t like but agree on, and positive if you can take the criticism and make your writing better.

What next then?

Get a blog and get writing. Simple as that. Dedicate 30 minutes a day to writing about something and publish it. Write about something you specialise in or you’re passionate about. That’s all it takes.

Writing is such an over-looked skill these days, yet it plays an important part in many people’s day to day jobs. Everytime you write an email, you’re writing. Creating reports, specifications and documentation is all part of what I do as a developer. If I want to do my job well then it makes sense that I should spend some time writing.

Part of excelling in any career involves how you communicate using any form of medium, whether it’s written or verbal. If you’re a good writer then you can convey information in a clearer way that people can understand and people will notice this. Especially those people in the hiring and promotion positions.

So go on, get writing!

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