This has changed significantly over the past few years. Tons of software and services are now available to tap into RSS and ATOM feeds directly. You have the choice as user where you want the information, what information and how often you want to get the information updated. Readers are usually aggregators as well because they support more than a single feed to download.
Readers make it easy for you to receive the data (subscription) from the various RSS and ATOM feeds in a single application without the need to visit various source websites directly. Some sites provide only a summary of the article in the feed to keep them small. You go to the website only, and if you want to read the complete article, it is no problem, because a direct link to the article is provided with the feed. You don't have to search for it on a source website.
You can very often find icons showing the words "XML", "RSS", "RDF", "ATOM" (or combinations of it like "RSS/XML") or icons with the name of the reader or aggregator on web sites and logs. The publishing of the feed to the public is called syndication.
Those are usually links to either the "Raw" Feed (XML) or the link that adds the content to your reader. If you use bloglines.com, for example, and a bloglines icon on another site, just click on it and it will add feed automatically to your other feeds under your bloglines account.
Check the right side of this blog and you will find all our feeds listed there. Those are Feedburner generated feeds. If you click on any of them a page will be opened that looks like a new website. Feedburner does that. Simply copy and paste the URL of that page into your reader software.
Check the Resources below for various readers and aggregation/syndication services.
Updating blogs is child's' play and so easy that my Mom could do it. The interconnectivity and community that comes with it makes it even more fun. If you want your blog to be found, no problem. If what you write is of interest for others, people will start reading your blog and even subscribe to your ATOM feed.
There is a good chance that you will make some new friends along the way and enrich yours and other lives. It's fun. You should try it.
For the information and news hungry readers and aggregators, blogs will become a tool as important as email - for some, even the most important tool available today.
Using the readers and aggregators is usually easier than using email. The time has passed that you missed important news because you did not have time to regularly check smaller news sources.
Chances are good that those sources now have a feed in RSS format, or will soon create one (If they don't have one, send them an email and ask for it).
The Internet and search engines revolutionized public access to information. Blogs and RSS feeds are now revolutionizing the Internet itself. That's why these new technologies are considered part of Web 2.0.
What is Web 2.0™? Guess! 2.0 stands for "Version" 2.0.
Podcasting is another popular activity which uses RSS as format to distribute information, not just in simple text form, but audio and video data as well.
If you are interested in podcasting, check Wikipedia's entry for podcasting to get started.
WordPress Free Open Source Blog Software
Movable Type by Six Apart ($99 setup + $150+ per year license)
Typo / Typo3
Blog Software Comparison Chart
... more Blog Software
Blog Hosting services
Wordpress.com - WordPress Hosted Solution
TypePad.com by Six Apart
LiveJournal.com by Six Apart
Blogger.com - Hosted Blog Service by Google
Movable Type Hosted by Yahoo! SB Web Hosting
MySpace.com - every Account has a Blog by default
Windows Live Spaces - by the new MS Live
MyFrostzone by FreeWebs.com (FrostZone.8K.com)
... more Blog Services, CMS, Wikis and eOffice Resources.Feed Tools
FeedBurner - enhance, track and distribute your feeds
SEO Tools for RSS and ATOM Feeds
RSS Feeds Submit to 55+ Blog and RSS Directories
RSS Submit SEO Editon by K-Soft - supports 80+ Directories
Google Reader (Beta)
My AOL (Beta)
News Is Free
FeedDemon by Nick Bradbury
Pluck RSS Reader
Google Desktop 2.0 (Module: Web Clips)
... more Readers and Aggregators (incl. other Platforms)
Other Blog Resources
w.Bloggar - WYSIWYG Blog Post Editor for Windows
OPML Editor - OPML, the std. for Feed Subscription exchange.
Technorati - the most popular Blog Search Engine
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