Sewing designer Abby Glassenberg recently described RSS* readers as, “the best magazine you could ever imagine. You tailor it to your particular interests, it’s constantly refreshed with new content, and it’s free.”
RSS has been around for a very long time, but it's never been widely described in a way that non-technical people understand well, which has kind of held it back despite it being such a fabulous thing. Most website platforms automatically publish an RSS feed, and the feeds are used in loads of ways we barely notice, but enjoy.
Over the years, various apps have been around to aggregate feeds, so a person (say, me) can collect the blogs and other media they want to keep up with and read it all in one place. That's why Abby likens an RSS reader to a magazine. It's like your very own custom magazine. I subscribe to a blog's feed using my feed reader, then I go to the reader to read all the blogs (and news sites and whatever) I've subscribed to.
For the last few years, Google Reader has been a wildly popular feed reader (as much as something can be wildly popular in a context of being misunderstood and under-utilized). But several weeks ago, Google announced that it will be shuttering Reader in July. *sadface*
I'm not ready to give up reading blogs by RSS despite all the talk of RSS being dead, so I followed the flow of outrage and proposed solutions that came in the wake of Google's announcement, and within minutes I signed up for a Feedly account. Feedly is also an RSS reader, but it's far prettier than Google Reader, and it plays very nicely with one of my other favourite apps, Buffer. Plus, Feedly connects with Google Reader now, and promises to seamlessly transition from that service once Google cuts the wires. It has a very handy browser plugin that makes it ridiculously simple to add feeds, and its iPhone app is amazeballs.
Naturally, Feedly isn't the only option. I've seen lots of love amongst crafts bloggers for Bloglovin', too. I added a Bloglovin' button to my sidebar if you're using that app and you want to add my blog to your very awesome custom magazine. No pressure.
* RSS = really simple syndication. It's the code that creates a constantly updated feed for blogs and most other media and social-media sites. RSS reader apps track those feeds and collect new posts for you in one central location.