This is a PICTURE of the symbol for RSS, which stands for Really Simple Syndication.
That’s just a fancy way of saying that you can get “Feeds” (also called updates) from websites, blogs and other things online and you pick where and when those updates are delivered to you. It’s a very kool tool! It will be your new best friend (bff) once you learn how to use it.
You have seen Feeds before even if you didn’t realize it. Think of the news that streams along the bottom of the television screen when there is important news or severe weather that the station wants to keep you constantly informed of without interrupting programming. That is a “feed” – a continuous stream of updates.
A “Feed Reader” is very much like a mailbox where all the things you want to read, get delivered to you as soon as they are updated. But instead of you giving out your email address or having to bookmark all the things you want to read and remembering to go back to each of those sites that you bookmark, all the information is delivered to you in one very convenient place. And you get to choose where that convenient place is and how it’s organized and when you want to get your updates.
RSS Readers are FREE and available through most ISP’s and email providers like Google, Yahoo, AOL, etc. (There is also an RSS reader in Outlook.) When you click the RSS icon on a website, you will see options that allow you to select where you want your updates to go. If you don’t already have a “Feed Reader” setup, don’t worry. When you choose the type of reader you want to use (for example Google), you are redirected to a page where you can enter your account information OR setup a new account. Once you do that, the feed automatically appears in your reader and new updates will appear as soon as they are published. The picture on the left shows you what my Google Reader looks like. The far left column is the list of websites that I subscribe to. I can delete a subscription at any time or add new ones. The center column is the newest items in my feed and the right hand column is things I have marked for follow up and other custom options I have set.
If you prefer to get your RSS updates by email, just enter your email address in the space provided (above-left where you see the email icon) and click subscribe. Updates will be delivered to your mailbox. I choose not to have them delivered to my mailbox because I don’t like all the clutter there. And while I started out subscribing to just a couple of sites using RSS, it turns out to be so easy and convenient that I now subscribe to about 30. And because of the way that the information is organized in my reader, I can quickly scan the information I get from all of those sites, pick out what interests me and ignore the rest. And since I get to decide how it’s organized, it’s just the way I like it! And if I don’t have time for a few days, everything waits for me in my reader, without cluttering up my mailbox. It’s an extremely efficient way to manage a lot of information.
You can also subscribe to “Comment” updates. This works the same way as the RSS button, but only sends you notices about new comments that have been posted as opposed to articles, thus allowing you to easily monitor a conversation.
What are you waiting for? Give it a try! Even if you decide not to use RSS, you’ll at least know what it is when you see that symbol everywhere online. But we think you’re going to really like it. Plus we have some more really neat things you can do with an RSS Reader that we’ll share with you later on too!
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