RSS for the Uninitiated
The world moves fast. Technology on the Internet moves faster. You blink and all of a sudden people are blogging, Facebooking, and Twittering all over the Internet. And everywhere you go, there’s that creepy looking orange icon lurking at the edges of your favorite sites, urging you to subscribe. Who is this RSS and what does s/he want with you, anyway? Have no fear — RSS feeds are just a way to simplify your Netsurfing experience.
What is RSS?
Wikipedia says that RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication”, but other sites have also claimed that it stands for “Rich Site Summary.” Either way, RSS is a way to gather all new content from your favorite sites into one location, instead of you hopping from site to site looking for any new material they might have posted lately. In that way, it’s a time saver. The sites you are interested in send their new material to you by way of the RSS feed.
How do you use it?
Don’t immediately zip off to your favorite site and press the orange button — first, you have to sign up for a RSS feed reader. Of course there was a catch! Isn’t there always, with technology these days? But this one’s easy to live with. There are plenty of free readers, also called aggregators, out there. These readers will organize your RSS feed into an easily readable, readily accessible format. The following are a few of the more popular readers:
- Google Reader (google.com/reader)
- RSS Bandit
- Sharp Reader
Once you’ve got your reader picked out and are familiar with all its workings, grab your hiking boots and head out to your favorite sites. Then click that RSS button without fear! Most sites will either have an easy one click method to subscribe, or you may have a URL to take back to your reader and add the site in manually. Then you can sit back and watch the new content roll in without all the fuss and bother.
Sigh of Relief
No, it’s not easy keeping up with all the changes on the Net. But now you can stop eying the RSS icon with such nervous suspicion and breathe a sigh of relief. This piece of technology at least is not beyond comprehension. RSS is not some Net pirate lying in wait — RSS is your buddy, your Go-To guy, your means for one-stop surfing. With RSS feeds, you can stop wading through countless sites and find all the new material you could want in one place. What will you do with all that saved time?