The How To With RSS Feeds

In this post – Set Up Email Address = Opening The Door To Social Media I spoke about using a service to keep track of your favorite websites and blogs, all in the one spot. Well this is done by the magic of RSS.

The initials “RSS” are used to refer to the following formats:

* Really Simple Syndication (RSS 2.0)
* RDF Site Summary (RSS 1.0 and RSS 0.90)
* Rich Site Summary (RSS 0.91)

Now I am not going to go into too much technical detail about RSS but I will just try to give a brief explanation on what RSS is and how to RSS Feeds for the user.

RSS is a format which is used to publish frequently updated content such as blogs, news, Twitter and podcasts. A feed (RSS document) contains either the full text of the content or a summary of the content.

The benefit of RSS is that you collate the content from multiple sources into one place. At the moment I have over 100 different subscriptions from blogs, news alerts and Twitter.

You read the RSS content using software called an RSS reader or a feed reader. These can be web-based like Bloglines or Google Reader or desktop-based like in Outllook 2007.

It is up to you what feeds you subscribe to and you do so by entering the feed’s link into the reader or by clicking an RSS icon in a browser that initiates the subscription process.

Your reader will then check your subscribed feeds regularly for new content. If there is new content it is automatically downloaded and then you use the reader interface to read the feeds. If you wish to comment on a blog post or read the full content if only a summary is provided, you can always click on the links in that particular document feed and go through to the original source.

My reader of choice is Google Reader but I am a recent covert from using the one provided in Outlook 2007. I probably would not have thought about setting up a Google Reader except that I set up email address with Gmail.

I have found the experience with Google Reader to be far superior and having learnt a few tricks from experienced users, I manage to keep up to date with my over 100 RSS subscriptions. If I did not use RSS feeds, there would be no way that I could keep up to date with the blogs, new alerts and websites that I like to follow.

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