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Two Ways to the Web: Bookmarks or RSS?

The Web dominates my screen time and has done so since (ulp) the mid 1990s, but how I keep track of my favorite sites has changed over the last few years. I used to rely on a well-tended set of bookmarks, but now I often find myself "bookmarking" a site by subscribing to its RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed.

Compared to bookmarks, RSS has some major advantages. (Confused about RSS? See my explanation from last winter.) First, it tells me when a site has published something new. Second, I can access the same set of feeds on any computer I use--NewsGator's free service automatically synchronizes my subscriptions across multiple free programs (NetNewsWire on a Mac, FeedDemon in Windows) and Web interfaces (the full-size and mobile versions of the NewsGator Online RSS reader).

So why haven't I abandoned bookmarks entirely in favor of RSS? I've realized that not all sites work for RSS. Some don't offer an RSS feed at all, but many others have content that doesn't fit into the RSS model--for instance, Web directories and message forums. And still others are actually updated too often for RSS to work.

Consider these three sites, all of which cover different kinds of local news:

* The DCist news blog cranks out 10 or more articles every workday, and most of them don't fall into the category of Things I Must Read Now. So my RSS reader would be overflowing if I added DCist's feed. It's easier for me to hit the site once or twice a day and scan through the headlines; hence, DCist gets a bookmark instead of an RSS subscription.

* Greater Greater Washington, a blog about urban-design issues, can post as many as three articles in a day, but it can also go a couple of days without anything new. That's a good frequency for an RSS feed. But I haven't bookmarked it; I'm unlikely to go back and read old stories here.

* The excellent food-and-dining blob Metrocurean can go two or three days without an update, sometimes for longer if author Amanda McClements is traveling. This is an even better subject for an RSS feed. But I also have it bookmarked; some of the site's content, such as pages listing newly-opened and upcoming restaurants and lists of McClements' own favorites, don't show up in its main RSS feed.

Where do you stand on this? Do you rely only on RSS, are you still a bookmarks person, or do you let your browser's autocomplete address function remember where you go on the Web?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  February 25, 2008; 2:20 PM ET
Categories:  The Web  
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