Monday, June 29, 2009

Feed Power

One thing that we really haven't talked about is the fact that this blog itself represents one of my online touchpoints. It's primarily a one-way communication channel (I publish, you read), but like most blogs it also supports comments on each post, so there's a return channel.

As a reader, though, how do you remember to read? How do you know if there's a new post? Well, in the old days, you'd bookmark a link to this blog in your browser and every once in a while you'd come back and visit to see if there's anything new ... until you eventually kind of forgot about it. Tedious! Well, put those bookmarks away, because there's a better way.

There is a "feed" associated with this blog that is your ticket to keep up-to-date with * Power. What is a feed? I've actually spent the last 5 1/2 years of my life helping publishers promote their feeds, so the fact that you have to ask means I've done a terrible job. A feed is something that you subscribe to, so that whenever a blog (in this case) updates, you are notified. The nice thing is that you're in complete control: you can unsubscribe at any time, so spam is not an issue.

To read this blog using a feed, I'd recommend one of three methods:
  1. Use Google Reader, which is by far the best online "feed reader". It's kind of like GMail, except that instead of reading emails, it's filled with all the blogs and news and other information that you have subscribed to. I personally think it's worth the initial investment in time to get it set up.
  2. If you use Internet Explorer to browse the Internet, see that little feed icon up in the toolbar? That means that there's a feed on this page that you can subscribe to. Go ahead and click on it and then say "Subscribe to this feed". Similarly if you use Firefox, there's something called a "Live Bookmark" you can subscribe to. I don't like this method as much as using a feed reader simply because it just creates a glorified bookmark -- it lights up when there's a new post, but you still have to remember to check it.
  3. You can also get new posts via email by providing your email address in that little form in the right-hand sidebar. If you're like me, you're probably leery of providing your email address, but I can personally vouch for this email service. Actually, in a later post, I'll tell you a technique that I use to detect where a spammer got your email address so you know who's leaking your info. [sneak peek]
So, those are some ways that you can follow this blog. I suppose another option is that I could carpet bomb all the social networks to which I belong whenever I create a new post, but I personally find that to be crass and annoying when I'm on the other end of it (note to Future Eric: talk about "social data normalization" as it applies to online touchpoints).

If you'd like to learn a little more about feeds, check out Feed 101 from our good friends at FeedBurner.

For those keeping score at home: yes, the Feed URL represents another online touchpoint. I've added it to the list.

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