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Information in dizzying motion

Dr Sutherland Lyall

The AR’s pick from the world wide web

How do you plug in to architectural information? Or, better, how does it plug into you? Regular emails are the old way. RSS, short for Really Simple Syndication (aka Rich Site Summary, and, in passing, the Red Swastika Society) is a method much in current favour. So how do you set up an RSS feed?

It depends on whether you want a desktop reader for Mac (try Newsfire and NetNewsFire) or PC (try FeedDemon or NewsCrawler) or a web-based news reader such as NewsGator. On a PC I prefer FeedDemon for no better reason than that it’s the first one I ever tried out and it worked. There’s also GoogleReader for which I think you have to sign up which is only a small chore.

OK, the FeedDemon or whatever icon sits there on the desktop. You want to see what’s happening out there. Click. There on the left of the screen which comes up is a long list of the feeds to which you have idly subscribed as in the FeedDemon screenshot below. Scroll and click for the story you want to read. Simple.

So the procedure again:
Download and install one of the above RSS readers.
Subscribe to feeds from architectural news sites as you view them.
Now just click when you want to read them.

You could have used the web-based reader Bloglines. But it closes down at the end of this month. Twitter and Facebook seem to have taken over so much of the information highway that RSS faces an uncertain future. Or so the pundits say. But hey, it’s how you want to absorb information. Twitter, with one or two exceptions, is a 140-word text-only, and has up till now been a non-image thing (it launched a picture and video function earlier this week). So it has some limitations. If you look carefully at the above screeshot you’ll see that there are 503 unread items. So RSS has limitations too. I like to get email newsletters because I’m lazy. But you should see the size of my email Delete box. Other people like to be able to pick and choose on a daily basis - and are comfortable with RSS. Ditto with Facebook. And if somebody thinks that all this can be standardised in the near future, they haven’t been on the Web very long.

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