Aggregators, or feed readers, reduce the time and effort needed to regularly check information sources for updates, creating a unique information space rather like your personal newspaper or TV channel. Once you have subscribed to one or more RSS feeds, an aggregator checks for new content at intervals and automatically retrieves any updates, then displays the content. As well as text and images, most aggregators can also download media files, such as video and audio files included in feeds.
With email or IM clients (such as Microsoft Messenger), information is "pushed" to the subscriber.
With feed readers, information is "pulled" from the source by the subscriber, who is in control of the flow. Unlike recipients of some "pushed" information (such as email spam), the user can easily unsubscribe from a feed if they wish.
There are two sorts of feed reader:
- Client software which must be installed on your computer. Some clients are free but most must be purchased.
- Web based aggregators which you can access from any location with a web browser. Almost all of these are free.
So let's look at the most popular web based aggregators. I'm going to show you three different sites. All are free but require you to create an account so that you can store your preferences, such as the feeds you subscribe to. Some people like one client, others prefer another, so explore all three then decide for yourself.