The great yet often bewildering thing about how the Internet has evolved is that there are now many more ways to deliver and receive content. I thought it would be useful for readers to present all the different ways to follow AMV, including comments, and analysis of the merits and limitations of each method. Even if you already have a method you like, consider reading through the whole post — you may just discover something you like better or learn something you didn’t know.
Bookmark the AMV homepage
This may seem like the most primitive form of following AMV — simply add the home page to your bookmarks (hit CTRL + D — or use the Bookmarks menu of your favorite internet browsers). And yet, it can be a very good choice. When you visit the AMV home page directly, you not only get the latest posts, but also a list of the latest comments and the latest additions to the Mormon Arts Feed, which aggregates the posts from several blogs/bloggers that focus at least part of their content on Mormon arts and culture themes.
A virture of this choice is that you decide when (and how often) you want to interact with AMV. No content is pushed to you. On the other hand, it also means that, depending on how often you visit, you may either miss things or you may visit so often that nothing much has changed (although as you may have noticed, we’re working on updating more regularly and the rate of commenting has also increased).
Use one of the Bloggernacle aggregators
Based on our stats, it looks like a lot of you are coming to AMV via one of the Bloggernacle aggregators — with the largest percentage coming from the Mormon Archipelago. Other aggregators are LDSelect, Mormon Blogs (look for us in the Mormon Art and Culture section — that’s why all of our posts are tagged “mormon arts”) and Nothing Wavering (although AMV is not yet listed there — we have an application in). I think the aggergators are great for following a lot of blogs and for discovering new ones. And in particular, the format allows for buffet style browsing. You scan what’s current and click on the posts that look the most interesting. In addition, some of the aggregators also show comment activity, which can be useful for sussing out which posts are generating a lot of conversation.
The downside to aggregators is that, especially with smaller blogs like AMV, news posts and comments can sometimes quickly get cycled out of the main boxes so you may miss things.
Receive AMV posts by e-mail
I know that some readers still feel most comfortable with e-mail. For them, I added a few months ago the option to receive posts by e-mail. And thanks to an alert reader named Andrea, just this weekend I changed the way the posts look when they are delivered so they are now much more readable — before they were going out in 9 pt. font.
At most, AMV posts once a day, so e-mail delivery can be a good way to go. You receive the full text of the post in your inbox, and can then click through to the Web version if you are interested leaving and/or reading a comment. The only downside to this is that the service is a little slow. In fact, as best I can tell there’s a 6-10 hour delay from the time a post goes up and the time the post-by-e-mail goes out. On the other hand, with the delay, you’re more likely to click through and find interesting comments to read.
Subscribe to AMV and AMV comments using an RSS reader
Using the RSS feed and a feed readers is the classic way to interact with blogs. An RSS feed is actually a lot like a classic newswire. You subscribe to it and when content is published you receive notification. Except rather than subscribing to one newswire (AP or BusinessWire), you can subscribe to individual blogs. For details on RSS readers (I use Google Reader, but Bloglines, MyYahoo and NetVibes are all good choices and there many others), see this Slate article (although it’s a bit out-of-date in what technology it recommends — most people use Web-based RSS readers now). Users of Outlook 2007 and of FireFox and Internet Explorer 7 will find that they all have RSS readers built in — although they lack some of the functionality of Google Reader or Bloglines.
I know that some folks feel that using an RSS reader is way too overwhelming and/or time consuming. This can absolutely be the case. But I find that in my case it actually decreases information overload. The reason for this is that I can quickly scan all the updates that come in and open those I want to read, mark the ones I want to read later, e-mail the ones to myself that I want to archive permanently, and mark the ones as read that I don’t care about. That’s much more efficient than navigating to every single Web site individually. What’s more almost every type of Web site has an RSS feed these days — it’s no longer just blogs. This includes local and national newspapers, e-commerce sites (receive auto updates), libraries, social networks like MySpace and Facebook, etc. I highly recommend taking the RSS route unless you are the type of person who feels compelled to read everything. It only works if you are willing to take 3-5 minutes twice a day to scan and discard (although you can do it less often if you only subscribe to a few feeds). And are disciplined about cleaning out your saved items every 3-4 weeks.
A few things to note about using RSS with AMV:
1. Unlike some other blogs, AMV includes the full text of the post in our feed. Forcing people to click through to your blog is rude, in my opinion. If someone is willing to commit to subscribing to your feed, give them the whole post. And if they want to add or read comments, then they’ll click through to the Web page.
2. If you look at very end of the shaded box at the bottom of each post, you’ll see something that says this “Comments Feed: RSS 2.0.” If you find a particular post interesting and want to receive all subsequent comments made on it, click on the RSS 2.0 link and you’ll be able to add that to your RSS reader.
3. Some crazy people out there might want to recive every single comment posted on AMV. For you folks, there is an All Comments RSS feed.
4. Finally, if you want AMV posts as well as other Mormon-arts related posts, consider subscribing to the Mormon Arts Feed.
Track AMV comments using a comment service
Say you aren’t that interested in using an RSS reader or you don’t want your reader to get bogged down with comments. And you want to track all the posts from all the blogs that you are interested in following. There are two new services that are solely for tracking comments: co.mment and CoComment. Both allow you to plug in the URL of the post you want to track. Even better, you can drag a bookmark up to your browser bar and then click on it whenever you are on a blog post page that you want to track.
Yes, it’s one more Web service to log in to, but I’ve been using co.mment lately and really like it. It keeps you disciplined and makes it easy to track activity on all the posts that you have commented on. Before I would often wander around the various blogs I’d commented on to see if anything new had been posted. With a comment service, even if you feel the incessant need to recheck for new comments at least you can do it all in one place.
Follow AMV with Twitter
I have set up for all AMV posts to automatically show up in the A Motley Vision Twitter account. I may add other content to the account at some point, but for the moment, it’s just the posts. Twitter is often called a “microblogging” platform because updates are limited to 140 characters.
Twitter is used for different things by different people. And some see it as just a fad, but it’s useful for a few reasons. To follow AMV with Twitter, you need to sign up for a Twitter account, and then go to the AMV Twitter page, and click on the “follow” button. Every time a new post goes up, you’ll receive a tweet with a portion of the title and a link to the post.
1. One of the key advantages of Twitter posts (called “tweets” — yeah, I know, the term is pretty lame) is that they can be delivered in numerous ways. They can be viewed on your Twitter page. They can be fed into an RSS reader. They can be fed into a dedicated Twitter widget that lives on your desktop or into an IM/chat application. Or you can receive tweets as a text message to your phone. And if you have a smart phone, you can receive the text message and click through to the post (although I haven’t tested AMV to see how well it looks on mobile browsers — I’m pretty old school when it comes to phone usage).
2. You can direct your tweets at other users by prefacing your tweet with @username (e.g. @motleyvision or @morriswm) so it’s a way to have semi-informal conversations. You can also choose to make your updates public or to limit them to certain people.
3. If AMV ever goes down (which it did yesterday [for the first time ever] due to our host having a server issue), I’ll probably try to post updates on the situation to the AMV Twitter feed.
Follow AMV on Facebook
I’ve set up an AMV Facebook page. I don’t know what to do with it yet, but may update this post later if I come up with anything good.
Follow AMV on FriendFeed
Finally, if you add me (William) as a friend on FriendFeed, all the AMV posts are fed into my FriendFeed stream. For those who haven’t heard of it, FriendFeed is a super aggregator — you can take anything that has an RSS feed and stream it into FriendFeed (the posts from your blog, the photos you add to Flickr, the songs you play on Last.fm, the links you favorite in Delicious, etc.). People can then comment on any item of content that shows up in the stream. Some bloggers don’t like this because they think conversations should remain on their blog. As I mention on my bio page, I have set up FriendFeed, but I don’t do much there so it’s much more likely that the good conversation will take place here at AMV. Indeed, FriendFeed is one of those things that pretty much only the cutting-edge tech people are using.
So those are all the ways that you can follow A Motley Vision. I hope you consider using at least one of them. We’ve got some very good things going on right now — and it’s only going to get better. The beautiful thing is that with so many options, most people can find something that fits their habits and preferences.
If you have any questions or suggestions or want to know more details about any of the above, post a comment or e-mail admin AT motleyvision DOT org.
And no matter how you follow AMV, thanks for your time and support.