In this post, I’ll briefly explain the technology & the benefit to learning how to use it so that you may become more efficient consuming (and utilizing) the information you want with less effort.
RSS is an acronym for Really Simple Syndication. The easiest way to understand RSS is to think of it as a broadcast beacon. Many websites offer you the ability to pick up their broadcast, also known as a “feed”, by clicking an RSS icon or inputting the link address into a feed aggregator. For more information about all of this, I recommend reading this wikipedia post on RSS.
The advantage to RSS is that you no longer have to visit a website to know it has updates. Instead, websites that offer RSS allow you to subscribe to the RSS feed and when new content is published, it’s automatically collected and waiting for you. It’s the information you want, when you want it. A newer, gentler web.
To consume RSS feeds, you need a feed reader. Some web portals like Yahoo & iGoogle allow you to subscribe to feeds right in their home page. You may also use a standalone application or a web application that is dedicated to the task of organizing and collecting RSS feeds. I use a web application as it is accessible anywhere internet access exists.
I’ve used two, Bloglines & Google Reader. I prefer Google Reader. There are many options, most are free. One other benefit to feed readers is the relative ease with which you can share information with others. Here is my shared page.
- Learn about RSS and understand how people are using it.
- Figure out how you want to collect RSS Feeds. I recommend a web-based reader to do this task. It’s easier and accessible anywhere you have internet access.
- Bookmark the tool in your browser toolbar.
- Visit your favorite web destinations and subscribe. Most browsers make this process super easy. I use Firefox (also free) and adding new feeds to Google Reader is as simple as clicking the RSS button once.
Hope this was helpful, feel free to leave a question in the comments area if any of this didn’t ‘click’.
Update 08Oct08: I found a great blogpost on RSS and how to use Google Reader. Check out The Pipers.