I just spent an hour opening up a bloglines account and subscribing to the blogs that I’ve had bookmarked for eons. It’s a bit of a tedious process, I have to say, although Bloglines has done yeoman’s work in making the process relatively simple. As a longtime Mac user, I absolutely adore drag-and-drop technology; I think I’ve come to expect it in many instances, and often get cranky when it’s not available. So the fact that BL has a “subscribe” button that you simply drag to the toolbar of Firefox, does, in my opinion, rock the free world and the developing nations.
From what I can tell thus far, it will indeed be a speedier process to read blogs in BL than to click through my voluminous blog folder as I usually do. In addition, BL offers a notification service that should appear in your browser corner (for me, it’s a separate little box that can be moved around the screen. what gives?). It’s difficult not to see this as a SERIOUS cure for procrastination: blog surfing edition. You know when there’s no new content. So get back to work!
In addition to using BL in order to make my reading more efficient, I’m also hoping to experiment with it as a teaching tool this spring. Rather than clicking through students blogs from a central page, I’ll be able to view their writing in a single folder once I’ve added the feeds to my BL account. We’ll see if it makes things simpler with class blogs–which, in the past, have become quite annoying in the number of clicks it takes to read and count the posts. Since the writing in them has really seemed to deepen and extend students’ thinking about course materials, however, I’ve been loathe to let the blogs go as a pedagogical tool. Let’s see if BL can make the assessment process better! [Note to self: one day, when I get really good at working with student blogs, I’ll find a way to explain how the intensification of RSS technology–like BL–means that blogging as a genre has specific conventions. For example, if the feed shows only the first paragraph of each blog, then the writer must use that first paragraph to grab the audience, yes? This is a bit different from how many students have been using the first paragraphs of posts to warm up to an idea…]
Meanwhile, over at Wesley Fryer’s Moving at the Speed of Creativity, he’s jettisoned BL for Google Reader. Sigh—the continuing saga of competing systems as we mediate the convergence culture. I have Google Reader as well, and it didn’t float my boat. It seemed awfully bulky to me—and a bit slow moving. Perhaps I should give it another look? Sadly, experimenting with all of these services takes time. Up next: working with social bookmarking, or “get on the damn Del.icio.us train, already.” But shouldn’t I also try out Digg? Or the new Netscape service “stumbleupon”?
You see the problem…
***Edited to add: HOLY MOLY! It’s incredibly efficient! I just checked my bloglines account as a brief break from building the blog site for my American Fiction class. It took me all of 3 seconds to see who had posted, rather than the 20 minutes I could spend clicking from blog to blog. I love you, RSS aggregator.