What is RSS?

RSS (usually read as Really Simple Syndication) is a great way to read more on the internet in much less time. Instead of surfing from one site to another looking for articles that might be interesting, you “subscribe” to sites that interest you. Then you use a free “RSS reader” or “aggregator” to scan quickly through all the new articles posted on those sites. The reader software can be set to show only article headlines, or headlines plus the start of the article, or the full article. When you have scanned a bunch of headlines, you can mark them as “read”. Then next time you check, you will see if there are any new, unread articles and you need only check those.

Better yet, you can sort your sites into categories of your own devising. Sports, Politics, Technology, etc.

In effect, once you have your RSS “feeds” (subscriptions) set up, you don’t have to go to the Web—the Web comes to you. So you can cover a lot more ground in a lot less time.

And if you are interested in a site like mine, where the content doesn’t change every day, you don’t have to guess anymore when there might be something new to read, or check every day just in case. When I post something new, it pops up in your RSS reader.

If you’d like to try out RSS, I recommend the free RSS reader called BlogBridge. You can download a copy (Windows & Mac versions available) at www.blogbridge.com. If you work at more than one computer you may prefer one of the web-based readers. Try Google Reader.

When you want to subscribe to a site, find the RSS link. Sometimes this is a normal hyperlink. Sometimes there is an RSS or XML logo. Sometimes there are separate links for entries and comments (stick to entries, for starters).
rss link logos
Right-click the link, copy it, and then in BlogBridge click on the “Subscribe to Feed” icon at the top (most Mac users will know that the “right-click” equivalent for a one-button mouse is “control-click”) . The link you’ve copied will be pasted automatically in the box that pops up. Just click OK, and you’re in.

The RSS link for this site is

http://www.ericmacknight.com/wordpress/?feed=rss2

If you have any trouble getting started with RSS, I’d be glad to help.

—June 2006

 

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