What do aggregators do?
Aggregators reduce the time and effort needed to regularly check websites of
interest for updates, creating a unique information space or "personal
newspaper." An aggregator is able to subscribe to a feed, check for new content
at user-determined intervals, and retrieve the content. The content is sometimes
described as being "pulled" to the subscriber, as opposed to "pushed" with email
or IM. Unlike recipients of some "pushed" information, the aggregator user can
easily unsubscribe from a feed.
Aggregator features are gradually being built into portal sites such as My
Yahoo! and Google; Web browsers such as Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Opera; e-mail
programs like Mozilla Thunderbird; and other applications, including Apple's
iTunes, which serves as a podcast aggregator.
The aggregator provides a consolidated view of the content in a single
browser display or desktop application. Such applications are also referred to
as RSS readers, feed readers, feed aggregators or news readers, although in
Internet communication, the last of these terms was first used for programs that
read Usenet newsgroups.
A website may incorporate aggregator features by republishing syndicated
content on one or more of its pages. Aggregator features also may be
incorporated in other client software, including Web browsers, e-mail clients,
weblog creation programs, or media player programs. Devices such as mobile
phones or Tivo video recorders (already aggregating television programs) may
incorporate XML aggregators.
The syndicated content an aggregator will retrieve and interpret is usually
supplied in the form of RSS or other XML-based data, such as RDF or Atom