While working on a solution for the group visibility problem on the OAC (you can read about this here), I happened across Collected.info for feed aggregation. I've had some positive feedback from OAC members about the OAC Groups List now hosted there. Additionally, I have contacted the Collected.info team to deal with technical issues on several occasions and have created and explored many 'collections' and all the present features of the service.

To review Collected.info in one sentence, it would be easy to entirely abandon my other feed aggregators in its favor. Here's why: Collected lets you corral a bunch of RSS feeds - from blogs, newspapers, networks, Twitter, social bookmarking sites or virtually any other page on the web these days - and display them in a single, flowing stream of content. Its simplicity is easy on the eyes, but not boring or static. It updates the mix of feeds in real time showing the most recent posts at the top of the page. Thankfully for information packrats like myself, it deals effectively with long lists of feeds like the 150 OAC groups I've used it to collate. Another great feature is that you can jump to an alternative view (detailed instructions here) which shows the latest posts to all feeds in an easy to scan list of blocks similar to Alltop (knocking Individurls out of the running for my favorite RSS web app). The deal clincher is that it loads very quickly, even on my miserly mobile broadband ("3", I'm glaring in your direction).

Before Collected, I had been using Bloglines as my RSS feed aggregator/reader/interface for several years. I've always liked that Bloglines allows me to organize my feeds into folders, with a handy side-bar showing a count of the newest posts for each feed. Bloglines remains a good and reliable service with one major advantage: I can 'clip', save and archive posts in the same interface. I follow a mix of anthropology and technology blogs and sites as well as web design and tech services. I syndicate some hundreds of feeds with thousands of posts on dozens of topics each day. All in all, it gets pretty overwhelming. These days I'm lucky if I get a chance to trawl through it all. Collected.info's block view will continue to list some less recent posts for each feed much like Bloglines will, but the Bloglines interface allows me to store and return to items that I don't have time to read at that moment. Having said that, Bloglines is also a lot slower over my connection. Not to mention that my Bloglines widget in my blog sidebar has been acting weird for ages and the Bloglines team has never gotten around to fixing it. Pfft. Collected.info customer service has been fairly reliable and quick to address or solve any issues.

So Collected.info has filled a gap in my web app needs. It's my quick fix; my fleeting glimpse at the blogosphere/anthro web in between teaching, writing the final chapters of my thesis, working, adminning the OAC and a myriad other tasks that float across my desk. I admit that I also just like shiny new web apps that do interesting things in colorful ways.


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