Many publishing and content management systems, such as WordPress, create “web feeds” (aka RSS or Atom) for content. These feeds are useful to search engines and for automation (those feeds are how I show new content on the People pages) but more importantly they are quite valuable if you need to keep track of many sites and are tired of having to constantly browse to each site to see if anything new has been shared.
A feed reader, such as Feedly (a very user-friendly system with reasonable capability at the free level) and Inoreader (my preferred service geared toward power users)—or one of the many desktop applications—essentially creates an email inbox style system for web content. You use the feed reader to “subscribe” to feeds, see when new material has been posted, and to read it.
If you choose to try out a feed reader (for the Get Productive activity or as part of creating your own Your Choice assignment), you can use the following file to subscribe to all of the class sites and comments (right-click on the file to download it): nousion-summer-19.opml
Let’s walk through the process of signing up for an account in a feed reader—in this case Feedly—and importing the file that contains the feed information for your classmates’ new posts and comments.
Go to Feedly and sign up for a new account. Once signed up and logged in, you should see a screen like this:
Import the Feeds (OPML) File
The information about the class site feeds is contained in an OPML file, a format commonly used to import and export this kind of information (I exported the class file from my feed reader).
To import the class feeds, use the Organize Sources item from the menu accessible by clicking on your user icon/avatar at the top right of the screen:
Use the Import OPML button:
Then click the Choose OPML button:
To select the OPML file:
Click the Open button. After a bit of time processing, you should see 16 new feeds, one each for the content and comments from everyone in the class:
Reading Your Feeds
Now you will be able to view posts and comments from all the sites right in Feedly very much as you read email: you can view the titles for an entire folder by clicking on it, as in the image below, with a count of the unread/unseen items next to each folder and site, with unseen items in bold (when you come back to Feedly, any items since your last visit will automatically appear):
Clicking on any item will show the content right there in Feedly, again very much like email. Here you can see I’ve clicked on Maureen’s “IP, Friend or Foe?” item:
Changing the Feed View
Using the “hamburger” menu next to the title of a feed allows you to change the view…this can be useful if a site uses a lot of images. For example, here is Deana’s site as it appears in Feedly using the “magazine” view:
And in “cards” view (play around to find the best view for each site):
Subscribing to Other Sites
Many sites have RSS feeds and feed readers are pretty good at finding them. For example, I like to keep up with the Arts & Letters Daily site. In order to use Feedly to make that more efficient, use the Add Content button at the lower left of your list of feeds and paste the URL for the site (1). If there is a feed, Feedly will show it as an option for you to select in the menu below (2):
If a feed is available, click on it and use the Follow button next to the entry that appears to add it as a “New Feed”:
Give your new subscription a name:
And, voila!, you will now have the site as a “source” in the sidebar along with the other sites you are subscribed to:
And read like any other subscription:
To comment on an item, assuming the site supports it, you will want to click through to the site itself. Note also that some items won’t display well (if they contain certain kinds of embedded content) or completely (if the site owner has chosen to only show excerpts) in the feed reader.
In any case, to access the source page, simply click on the title of the expanded item to view the page in the browser:
We’ve just scratched the surface of Feedly’s features, but it’s enough to be useful and potentially save quite a bit of time already! For more, check out the Features and Tutorials section of the Feedly blog.