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read blog archiveHave you ever come across a really useful blog and wish you had discovered it earlier? There are plenty of awesome websites you love and subscribe to but how about the old posts that had been published there before you found the resource? If you ever wanted to go through old archives of a great blog you had just found and fallen in love with, you’d have to spend days or even weeks reading the old articles one by one.

But who has the time? And who is that organized?

Today’s tool will let you more efficiently organize your reading of old blog archives: it will create the new feed containing only old posts and let you subscribe to it.


Of course, this isn’t about some strictly news-related blogs that have pretty much outdated archives (unless you want to track back some news related to a topic or phenomenon you are currently investigating).

The tool should turn out to be particularly handy when you need to systematically read through useful established blogs with lots of great tips that are still valid. Even pretty much news-related blogs like Google Operating System have some particular categories that are goldmine of useful information, great tools and geeky inspiration.

Play The Feed Back!

Feed Playback is an easy-to-use tool that allows you to subscribe to old posts in any feed and even set the frequency of updates (for you to better manage time for reading the old articles). The tool has been created by Google Reader developer Mihai Parparita who gives a few awesome examples as to where this tool might turn particularly handy: for instance, you can learn a new skill or language every day, or read a long-running comic from (nearly) the beginning

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The developer also shares a couple of more interesting PlayBack tools to check out:

I also noticed that this playback idea seems to be a bit in vogue right now; as I was working on the tool I was reminded of Disunion (The New York Times’ playback of the Civil War) or the Orwell Diaries (a playback of George Orwell’s World War II diaries).

The setting-up process is as easy as it can only be:

  1. Provide the feed URL (you may use category archive feed to better target your subscription);
  2. (Optional) Modify the start date you want to play back the feed from (I wish there were the time frame option);
  3. Select the frequency of updates (once a day, one post every other day, once a week);
  4. Subscribe to the feed using your preferred feed reader;
  5. View the playback in Google Reader

read blog archive

One tiny note: The tool uses Google Reader’s feed archive to get the data, so you won’t be able to subscribe to really old posts that predate Google Reader (which means you aren’t going to be able to monitor posts which date back earlier than October 2005).

Warning: you will have to manually tweak the URL for some feeds to get it work. For example if you copy-paste MakeUseOf feed URL, it will look as follows:

http://feedproxy.google.com/Makeuseof

… which is not going to work.

The tool will only process the URL if you use closing slash after it:

http://feedproxy.google.com/makeuseof/

The first update in your RSS feed will contain your new feed information including the number of updates and how often you are going to receive them:

read blog archive

What do you think about this tool? Do you see yourself using it? Can you think of some great blogs you’d like to read back using the tool? Please share your thoughts!

  1. Bearhair
    March 8, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    It's a general question, not for any specific feed.

  2. Ann Smarty
    March 8, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    As far as I could see, there was only one post available at first.
    Could you share the RSS feed you tried with. I am curious to check that out as well

  3. Bearhair
    March 8, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    When first subscribing to an RSS feed, is there a way to designate how many posts you first receive? Some seem to give 10, others 25, some are just a random number.

    In many cases, I'd like as many past articles as are available included when I first subscribe to the feed.

    • Ann Smarty
      March 8, 2011 at 7:33 pm

      As far as I could see, there was only one post available at first.
      Could you share the RSS feed you tried with. I am curious to check that out as well

  4. Bearhair
    March 8, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    When first subscribing to an RSS feed, is there a way to designate how many posts you first receive? Some seem to give 10, others 25, some are just a random number.

    In many cases, I'd like as many past articles as are available included when I first subscribe to the feed.

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