Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Technology: how to read blogs?

At the launch of the group blog on e-collaboration we got the request for a basic introduction to blog reading for people new to blogs. Together with Dorine Ruter, we worked on a writely document and I was able to post the document directly to my blog. This is a more technical introduction, the 'why to read blogs' should probably follow later! So here we go:

How to read blogs?

There are various ways to read a webblog ('blog') that you think is of interest to you. The main choice you have to make is whether you want to visit the blog every now and then, or that you want to be up to date with every new post on that blog.

1. You want to read the blog every now and then

The following are ways to remember the blogsite online; (of course another option is to write down the link in your agenda or wherever is handy for you...):

  • * You can add the link to your Favorites / Bookmarks in your internet browser;
  • * You can use the History of your internet browser. This will only work if you are visiting the blog regularly. In that case the blog address will appear in your recently visited web addresses. If you don't visit it for a long period, the history of your browser may no longer remember the URL (=the weblink)
  • * You can tag it with an online social bookmarking tool, like e.g. ( To find the blog, you have to make sure that you use a tag that helps you to find the blog whenever you want to read it. This has the advantage that you can find it on any computer with an internet connection. The other advantage of using a social bookmarking tool is that others may find the blog of your interest through the tags you use. A more elaborate explanation of can be found at:
    • - Some basic information;
    • ottergroup - A screencast on how to use to store and share weblinks.
      * If you have a blog yourself, you can add blogs to your blogroll on the sidebar. Then you may click on them every now and then.

2. You want to read the blog systematically and you want to track any new post

There are various options again if you don't want to miss any new post on the blog. Almost all blogs have an RSS feed system and if you 'catch' those feeds with a RSS feed reader you will know whenever something new has been written. A lot of blogs have a 'subcribe by email' function. You may have to find out what works for you.


You can use the subscribe by e-mail function which looks like the following and can be found at the right side of the blog (sometimes on the left-hand side). The only thing you have to do is enter your e-mail address and hit the 'subscribe me!' button. You will receive every new post in your e-mail inbox.

Powered by FeedBlitz
If your favorite blog does not have this option, you may ask the owner(s) to add this function! Alternatively you can create an account at e.g. Feedblitz and add a new feed yourself by entering the blog address.


A program known as a RSS feed reader or aggregator (the names RSS reader and RSS aggregator are both used) can check a blog on behalf of a user and will display any new blogposts that it finds. You can use any RSS reader. An RSS reader can be used not only to stay up-to-date with blogs, but with any other website that has an RSS feed. You can recognise the RSS feed on a blog for example by these signs:

There are lots of RSS readers; some allow you to read whole news items through the reader, others show the first lines and you can click on the item to read the full article online:

More on RSS reader, what it is and how to use it for non-profits can be found here:

Learning 2.0 tip of the week has a series of very clear podcasts on aggregators

Or you can use an aggregator specialized in blogs. Here you can subscribe to the blogs you like to read and it will indicate which blogs have new blogposts. You will also be able to read them without going to the actual blog itself.

Personalised home pages

Personalised home pages are a special type of RSS reader which offer RSS aggregating functions too. The home page will open every time when you start your internet browser (eg. Firefox or Internet Explorer). In one glance you can see the new headlines of services you are subscribed to (see picture). You can add blogs to your personalised home pages too, discussion groups with RSS feeds or the weather forecast. You will see the headlines of new blogposts and can click on them if you want to read them.


Andy said...

I'd like to suggest an additional option for

1. You want to read the blog every now and then.

Add a link to the blog in your own sidebar blogroll on your own blog.

Emmanuel.K.Bensah II said...

Joitske!! This is SO very useful.:-) I'm fgonna check the link on RSS for nonprofits...sounds interesting!:-) hope you are well?

Joitske Hulsebosch said...

Andy, good idea, never thought of that. And I'm happy with your remark, Emmanuel, I had been thinking that posting it on my blog might make it accessible for people in the south, lots of people who don't have a blogreading habit (yet :))