Skim *Hundreds* of Blogs & Feeds in Moments?

Carved out some time today to finally sign up with Newsgator online. It is a *very* powerful aggregator of RSS (syndication) feeds from web sites and blogs.

I went there and signed up for the free service (there are other ones with more features that are premium pay for upgrades) and chose many of the blogs in my “Fav Blogs” bookmark list which I surf to every day. It also suggested several others and let me add my own feeds. Very cool.

I can’t help it though…I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with aggregators. Some of the aggregator web sites I still somewhat frequent are ones like FreshNews, NewsHub, and one of my favorites WorldTechNews.

The love part? Being able to quickly scan for items which might interest me. This is incredibly useful when I’m trying to stay on top of a company, an industry or a trend. This is my main mode during my work day and I am often scanning several aggregators like these so I don’t miss anything (the jewels I find are amazing too…and people have often wondered how the hell I find all the stuff I do).

The hate part? No context. No serendipity. Take a look at an “A” “B” comparison between my own blog posts within Newsgator…and those same posts right inside my blog. Though the Newsgator parsing is pretty good, it’s not as pleasing to view. Also, I’ve built context around the posts (like who is the nerdy, ADD poster child that is writing this damn thing anyway!) that help set the tone for the posts. The value of context is probably arguable with my blog…but most others I go to have interesting context wrapped around the posts and I often go off on tangents and discover new things or make new serendipitous associations.

Of course, a Newsgator or site aggregator user can easily and instantly go directly to the blog or web site of interest and gain the context if they so choose. This is what I do too. But what if much or most of that context is purposely there to help offset costs with contextual ads or commerce? It’s all stripped away with an aggregator.

The tradeoff for me of losing context and the serendipity factor is mostly positive when I’m in a hurry during my work day and negative when I’ve got leisure time to read, poke around and go off on tangential web discovery trips. So yes, the jury is still out on my opinion of Newsgator.

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Connecting the Dots Podcast

Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.