If you’re like me, the first time you ran into the term, RSS or RSS Feed, you had no clue. Yet we see the term RSS or something like Subscribe with RSS and variations of the symbol pictured here (often in orange) on almost every blog.
Let me ask a you question: Have you ever wished for a better way to keep track of the blogs you like?
RSS, aka Real Simple Syndication, to the rescue. Well, at least partially to the rescue. Subscribing to an RSS Feed can give you a way to keep an eye on your favorite blogs, or any other sort of information actually that has a feed, without the blog getting in your face or requiring you to do searches.
First, a Reader
To use (and even make sense) of RSS you need a reader. A feed reader is a website that you personalize so you get to see the headlines of your favorite blogs. When a headline makes you want more, all you have to do is click on it and up pops the article (or music or video, etc.) you’ve chosen.
To make use of this marvelous service you need an RSS reader. I use Google’s free reader (http://www.google.com/reader. In the past I used FeedReader (http://feedreader.com/) which is also free. Matt Law, Guide to Webtrends at About.com has a helpful review of a variety of readers for Windows, MACs and mobile devices at: RSS Readers Guide
RSS Beats Often Bookmarking
Most of us start by bookmarking blogs, and it’s amazing how quickly a collection of bookmarks can get out of hand. Even if you’re diligent about sorting them into folders (I’m not), if you’re at all like me it may be ages before you get back to the sites you bookmarked. Bookmarks are static.
Blogs are, of course, change all the time. Although I still use bookmarks I find them a pretty sad way to keep track of my favorite bloggers.
RSS, on the other hand is far from static. In fact, RSS gives you a way to let websites let you know when something changes; after you add a site or blog to your RSS reader (I know… more about readers in a moment) you don’t have to do anything. It’s all automatic.
RSS Subscriptions are Free and Easy
In order to get the headlines in your reader you either click on the blog’s RSS symbol (the picture here is a blue one, and the color makes no difference at all) or copy the site’s URL into the reader. Subscriptions are free.
It really is that easy. And yes, as you collect feeds you can sort them into categories or folders. When you’re ready to see what’s going in with your favorite blogs open your reader and scan the headlines, clicking only on those that tickle your fancy at the moment.
Incidentally, if you want to get the feed for this site, download a reader, then either click the orange RSS button sort of hidden above the gold pencil or click the link that says Subscribe with RSS.
Told you it was easy!
Image from http://www.sxc.hu