Posted by: gregboyko | February 11, 2006

RSS Feeds

If anyone who reads this doesn’t know what an RSS feed is, continue reading! I’m not going to go into any technical details and I’m not going to use any jargon if I can help it. This is just a brief explanation of what RSS is and why you should be using it.
 
RSS (which probably stands for Really Simple Syndication, depending on who you ask) is an internet technology that allows anyone who publishes content to provide a syndication feed to which readers can subscribe. In non-internet terms, it is sort of the equivalant of subscribing to a newspaper, newsletter, or magazine. When new content is published, it is automatically sent to you so that you can read it.
 
The real beauty of RSS is that all the content you care about (assuming it is provided as an RSS feed), can be viewed quickly and easy without your having to remember to go check your favorite sites to see if there is new content. The way this works is by using a "News Aggregator", which will check your RSS subscriptions and notify you of any new content. You can then see all the content (whether it be news headlines, new photos I post to this blog, etc.) in a single location, without having to visit multiple web sites.
 
As an example, I currently have the following subscriptions set up in my news aggregator:
  • Headlines from the local newspaper
  • Headlines from several technology sites
  • New posts from some of the blogs I read

In all, I regularly read content from about 25-30 different web sites, and it’s quick and easy.

 
So, if you’re not using RSS yet, you should start. How, you ask? There are multiple ways to subscribe to RSS content. I personally prefer a standalone RSS news reader, and I’m currently using one called SharpReader. Simply download a reader and start subscribing to feeds. One of the easiest ways to subscribe to a feed is to look for the orange RSS or XML button on a web page (such as the one at the bottom of this page). This indicates that an RSS feed is available.
 
If you’d prefer not to download a standalone feed aggregator, use a web-based one, such as www.live.com. This makes it easy to get started, but isn’t quite as flexible or convenient if you read a lot of feeds.
 
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