The Internet Filed, Indexed, and Searchable

Many people, when asked if they have ever used an RSS feed search aggregator, will pause, scratch their heads, shrug, and possibly offer a small smile of apology, much the same way you might shrug and smile when a foreign tourist asks you a long string of exuberant questions in their native tongue. You may have heard the word for “bathroom” in there somewhere, but you are not sure. Similarly, most people know what an “RSS feed” by itself is, but an “RSS feed search aggregator”? Does it aggregate the feeds? Or does it somehow aggregate a bunch of different searches for the feeds? Sorry, no understando what you are sayingo.

An RSS feed search aggregator is, simply put, a system for indexing and retrieving multiple RSS feeds for multiple sources. And by “multiple”, I mean “virtually all the RSS feeds on the Internet at one time”. Which, as you may know, is probably a lot.

When you do a Google search for any given topic, the search engine scans through the directories and indexes of the sites it has searched and filed, to find the links that are the best match for your search query. RSS feeds can be indexed the same way, and culled together based on an index search after you enter a search string. A good example of this (and something you have probably already used) is the “News” tab on the Google search page. By clicking this tab after entering you search text, you can get a results page that includes any RSS news feeds having to do with that topic. A convenient feature of this is that you can easily switch back and forth between the “Web” tab and the “News” tabs, and refine your search in either field.

In fact, if you want to get totally meta, you can even aggregate the searches for search aggregators. Did I blow your mind a little just then? Search aggregator searches peaked in late spring and early summer of 2013 when Google announced it would be shuttering one of the more popular RSS news aggregators on the market, Google Reader. Frantic Reader fans scoured the Interwebs, searching for a replacement RSS feed aggregator, wildly hoping to avoid severe RSS withdrawal symptoms (which can include shaking, nausea, hallucinations, and having to read an actual newspaper).

The Internet is all about filing, indexing, and information retrieval. RSS feeds represent a huge amount of constantly updated information, so it only makes sense that the feeds are indexed and made searchable. So the next time you see a search engine, give it a hug. It works pretty hard all day long.