The words ‘RSS feed’ can inspire fear in even a technically minded person. What is RSS? Where do I start? And most importantly why should I bother using it? are the questions that first come to mind. RSS is still a fairly new concept but it is becoming widely used because it provides an effortless way for busy people to stay connected to the vast amount of information available on the Internet.
Despite its technical name, RSS - which stands for “Really Simple Syndication” - is an easy way to monitor many websites all at once without having to visit any of them. Web sites like blogs and news sites publish RSS feeds to push out frequently updated content. You then subscribe to the feed, either through your web browser or an RSS reader such as Google Reader, and every time new information is published to a feed it is sent straight to your browser or reader, allowing you to receive new content effortlessly. Before RSS you had to continually visit a site to see if there was new information, now you can have multiple sites sending updates to you.
Subscribing to feeds is easy, just follow these steps:
To subscribe directly in your browser: Click on the RSS icon to bring up the feed. Click "Subscribe to this feed", saving it to your bookmarks. You can access your feeds directly in your browser by choosing View - Explorer bar - Feeds in IE7 or in your Bookmarks folder if you are using Firefox. Keep your bookmarks open in your browser and when new information arrives the bookmark will be highlighted, allowing you to check the new content at your convenience.
To subscribe using an RSS reader: Using an RSS Reader like web-based aggregator Google Reader will allow you to monitor feeds from any computer over the Internet. Right click on the RSS icon in your address bar or on a page and choose "Copy" to copy the link. Login to your RSS reader and click the "Add a Subscription" link. Paste the link you just copied and save this subscription. Now whenever you log into your RSS reader, the latest information from all your feeds will be available to you.
Still want more information? The good folks at Common Craft have created an excellent short video explaining exactly how RSS works.
There are two types of Internet users, those that use RSS and those that don't. This video is for the people who could save time using RSS, but don't know where to start.