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Quickview: Feed Your Appetite for News

Google Reader is going away, but these two alternatives can help advisors stay up to date on custom news sources.

Bill Winterberg, 03/28/2013

Earlier this month, Google caused minor anxiety across the Internet by announcing it will retire its Google Reader service on July 1, 2013. Launched in 2005, Google Reader is an online service used to organize and read website updates, called feeds, in one convenient location.

What's a Feed?
In the mid-1990s, new content posted to the Internet began to grow at an exponential rate. Staying up to date on new information quickly became a Sisyphean task. Early Web developers sought to create a simple way to collect and organize updates from a variety of websites, ultimately creating the Rich Site Summary feed (RSS, or commonly referred to as Really Simple Syndication).

RSS files are formatted plain text files that contain the contents of a website update (e.g., written text and embedded images). By creating a standard for RSS feeds, Internet users could now subscribe to any number of feeds and stay informed on specific websites of interest without browsing repeatedly across multiple sites.

RSS feed readers were then developed to help users organize and manage all of their RSS feed subscriptions, with Google Reader among them. 

RSS in Decline
According to this month's announcement from Google, usage of Google Reader (and RSS feeds in general) has declined. With the rise of real-time social services like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, Internet users have many more ways to monitor and receive updates about news and information posted online.

But what if you still want to leverage existing RSS feeds to stay updated on events relevant to you?

First, consider creating an account with Feedly, one of the most popular RSS reader alternatives to Google Reader. Feedly proved to be so popular that the company attracted more than 500,000 new users in the days after Google announced Reader's retirement.

DIY RSS
But maybe you don't want to subscribe to a whole new program like Feedly just to say informed about updates from a handful of websites. Instead, you can create your own feed update system using IFTTT.com (see Make Your Social Web Smarter).

Bill Winterberg, CFP, is a technology and operations consultant to independent financial advisors. His comments on technology have been featured in a variety of financial industry publications. You can view more information about Bill and see his schedule of upcoming speaking engagements at his Web site, FPPad.com. The author is a freelance contributor to MorningstarAdvisor.com. The views expressed in this article may or may not reflect the views of Morningstar.

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