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RSS: Recommended RSS Readers

Written by Kelsey Sigurdur Friday, 07 April 2006

Despite the popularity of RSS amongst Content Providers and Software Developers, surveys conducted in 2005 found that as few as 6% of internet users utilize RSS to monitor their favorite web sites.

According to the survey (subscription required), nearly two-thirds of the respondents either never heard of RSS or did not know what the technology is used for.

Paying no heed to the low adoption rates, Software Developers have created an intimidating amount of software and services for managing and viewing RSS Feeds. A quick tally of the links posted at the RSS Compendium RSS Readers page turns up a whopping 600 available applications. 600!

Similarily, Content Providers of all persuasions have caught the RSS bug producing and publishing an astonishing amount of content in RSS formats. Syndic8.com, one the webs earliest RSS Feed directories, currently reports 465,664 RSS Feeds in its database.

So, why is everyone so excited and why should you care?

The answer to both questions is choice.

whatever we want with it meaning "whatever we want provided that that our use is legal and the content is not laden with some draconian DRM", but that's another story.

RSS provides us, as content consumers, the ability to pick what content we want, choose how we want it, have it delivered to us when we want it, and then do whatever we want with it.*

Accordingly, Developers are working to give us the tools to put these choices into practice. Still more Developers are working to build the infrastructure to support the array of choices that we'll be making in the future. Even more Developers are dreaming up choices that we don't even know we want to make yet.

Waiting in the wings are Content Providers, with their marketers in tow, salivating over the potential to spread their monetized message wider, faster, and cheaper.

Also referred to as Web 2.0

The world of Web 2.0 is also the world of what Dan Gillmor calls "we, the media," a world in which "the former audience", not a few people in a back room, decides what's important.

Tim O'Reilly -- What Is Web 2.0

We've got all the ingredients for a web renaissance* of sorts and at its heart is the notion of decentralized content and how we choose to use it.

So, what's an RSS newb to do?

Dive in!

As awareness of RSS's benefits increase, you're going to start seeing more news, reviews, opinions, and anecdotes about RSS services and applications popping up all over the web. Seeing as how you're already here, however, I thought I could offer a few recommendations to get you started.

Over the next few pages you'll find information and links to a few RSS Readers that I've had the pleasure of using while developing and testing uncharted.ca's RSS Feeds.

It's not a comprehensive list by any means. Nor is it intended to serve as any kind of software review or rating. It's just a few pointers to RSS Readers that meet or exceed my woefully simple requirements:

  1. Must be free and/or open source
  2. Low system requirements and/or software prerequisites
  3. Must work

The recommendations are broken up into two categories; Desktop Clients, being software that you download and install on your computer, and Web Services, being sites that allow you to suscribe to and manage your RSS Feeds from any computer with a web browser and an internet connection.

Please note that with the exception of the Web Services and the Sage extension for Firefox, only Windows applications are included here. If you're looking for Mac or Linux RSS Readers I encourage you to check out ars technica's Mac RSS readers Review or the RSS Compendium RSS Readers for Linux.

On to the software...

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