I have been wanting to do a post about RSS and explain this wonderful technology in a way that maybe my mom could understand. Until yesterday, I was not sure how to get going on this, but I saw a great video that explains the basics of RSS.
Watch the video and then continue reading to see how you can make RSS work for you.
Now that you know what it is, why would you use it? As was explained in the video, you can have your newspaper “feed” the information to you. If you like reading blogs, then using an RSS reader can really be a help in getting your information in one place instead of surfing to each blog. Then when you see a post that interests you and you want to comment on it, you can go to the blog to make your comments. This saves a lot of time and makes sure you don’t miss anything.
How does it save time? The reading software will constantly be checking for updates to the websites you are “subscribed” to. When you open your feed reader you will have all the latest news and blog posts. You don’t have to load up 6 different blogs and news sites. Also, you won’t be wasting time if the site has not been updated since your last visit. This is particularly helpful for sites which don’t update often. It is easy to just stop going to look for updates if there has not been one in a while.
It keeps you from missing anything because the reader will pull all the information together in one place. You are less likely to forget a site for a few days (which happens if you individually surf to sites) and miss something important. Again, especially true for sites which don’t update often.
You can get stand alone reader software for your computer, or you can use an on-line reader. I have accounts with Google Reader and Bloglines. Both are on-line readers, but I use neither. I have the accounts, but only occasionally visit the sites. That is because I primarily use one computer and have reader software installed on the computer. The software I use is small, streamlined and fast.
You may want to look at one of the on-line offerings if you move from computer to computer, or you have a good Internet connection negating the “slow as molasses” page loading problem that some of us experience.
There downside of using an RSS feed reader as opposed to visiting the site directly is that you are not exposed to all the ads that the blogger or news site imposes on you. Also, you don’t get “counted” as a page visit unless you actually go to the website. Neither of these issues is a problem for you as the reader, it only affects the page host.
If you want to use an on-line reader, I recommend both Bloglines or Google Reader. I have not used either enough to know which I like better, but they both work. For a stand alone solution, you will have to look around. I use Akregator, but that is only available for Linux. My wife used to use FeedReader when she was on Windows. I have not really searched for one on the Mac. When I am sitting at the Mac, I just use Google Reader. But, I only use the Mac when I am handcuffed and forced to watch a TV show since the Mac is in the TV room. My use of RSS on that machine has been limited.
Do you have a favorite reader that you use? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.
I have not touched at all on how to subscribe to a site. Many sites will have a nice little button that will allow you to subscribe right into Bloglines or Google Reader. That makes those options more appealing.