John Cox, Guest Writer
I suppose that I can be described as the post-modern Slacker. I am not that lazy when it comes to work as I have kids to feed, but I am always looking for something to fill my limited attention span. However, I tend to be rather lazy when it comes to finding new sources to read. Using the OPML option with Bloglines is the easiest way I have found to discover new reading material from folks that have the same interests as I.
OPML is similar to a table of contents of your RSS feeds. It shows what you are subscribed to, and how you have it organized. If you have a peek at my OPML file you can see each of the blogs that I am subscribed, as well that I am a rather unorganized person that just leaves them in my root folder. This is the file that I have generated from my Bloglines account, and is just a collection of blogs that I have found over the years by downloading others OPML files.
The process is rather simple on Bloglines on utilizing the OPML of others to find some outstanding (and some not so outstanding) reading. I would assume that it is rather simple on other RSS Aggregate tools as well, but you need to consult the documentation for the tool that you are using. Here is how I go about it. (You might want to open this article in a second window if you want to go through it with me.)
Find a blog that you enjoy in Bloglines. We will use Successful Blog as our example. From Bloglines we can see that there are 74subscribers that read this blog on that feed. If we click on the “74 Subscribers” link you will see that of those 74, there are 28 souls that leave their blog reading list public. On that list is “niceguyeddie” which is my subscriptions (I am a fan of Reservoir Dogs, and have absolutely no taste in reading).
When you click on my nickname the left frame changes to my subscriptions. This is where it gets fun. If you scroll down the list you will see a link for “Export Subscriptions”. That should bring up my OPML file in the right frame (or if you chose to open in a new tab / page then you know where it is going). Simply right click on the right frame and “This Frame -> Save Frame As” in Firefox. The instructions are similar for you 7 IE users left, as there is a “Save Frame As” in IE as well. Simply save the frame as an XML file to your desktop or folder that you use for working files.
We now how the OPML file from our like minded reader on our computer. This is only half the process, as we now need to import the feeds into our account so that we can enjoy and track them. Get back into “My Feeds” and you should see a link for “Reorder / Sort” in the left frame. Simply go to that link, and at the bottom of the left frame you will see a link for “Import Subscriptions”. When you click on that link your right frame will change to an OPML import where you can upload the OPML.xml file that you just saved to your desktop or working directory. Once imported, it may take some time for the feeds to end up on your reading list, but generally I have found that it is almost immediate.
What I have found is that most folks have subscriptions to their own Technorati watch lists for vanity reasons (I do as well). I generally unsubscribe from those immediately and sift through all the new blogs that i have found. On any given import, I tend to find ten or so blogs that interest me enough to remain subscribed and to follow with some interest.
This technique might not work for you as far as finding new reading, but it is worth a try when you feel that you are in a bit of a reading rut.
When SOB John isn’t showing us tricks at Bloglines. He’s at Wyome. com definitely NOT slacking. Check out his blog.
Thanks for a great post, John!–ME “Liz” Strauss