RSS you say? Whaaat? Well actually RSS is quite possibly one of the most underestimated tools on the web but also one of the most useful.
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and that’s really it explained literally in a nutshell. Its had several other names including ‘RDF Site Summary’ and laterly, ‘Rich Site Summary’ but WhatIsRSS website have an easy to understand summary:
RSS solves a problem for people who regularly use the web. It allows you to easily stay informed by retrieving the latest content from the sites you are interested in. You save time by not needing to visit each site individually.
So what does that actually mean, in laymans terms? Well, if you’re anything like me you visit a LOT of websites on a daily basis for news, football results, technology updates, shopping, travel bargains, classified ads, anything you can think of. Its time consuming isn’t it?
You don’t want to be having to remember all those URL’s off by heart so you add them as bookmarks, but then you still have to find the bookmark in your browser, click on the link and then scroll thru the latest posts on the website. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!
No longer do users have to go find content; now it can come to them automatically. What if you could bookmark all your favourite websites, have something pull in all the new content as it happens and have it arranged all neatly on one page?
That’s RSS for you. See ninety-nine percent of any websites you visit and you’ll see that familiar little orange square. Like the BBC News website for example,
Feed Reader or News Aggregator software allows you to grab the RSS feeds from various sites and display them for you to read and use. Probably the most universal of all RSS readers at the moment is Google Reader which is my web-based reader of choice which is complimented by the FeedDemon desktop reader which syncs with Google for offline reading.
Here in the office we can, fire up literally in seconds either reader and catch up with all our niche news feeds on cloud storage, the web hosting industry, web development, social media and cloud technology services, etc without any heavy lifting!
There’s an excellent and easy to follow screencast from Andy Wibbles (click on the image below) that really nails it if you’re a complete Google RSS reader newbie.
More than anything it is a massive time saver and the other thing that an RSS reader enables you to do is to skim the headlines on a website, so you only have to click on the news that is of interest. You can save anything of lesser importance til later.
Creating feed folders allows you to organize by topic, geography or any way that you prefer. For example, when I’m in a hurry I usually go straight to my “Web Hosting” news folder, leaving others unread for a later time. If you’re not using folders and have all the news sources stacked up one after another on the left sidebar, you are wasting a lot of time!
Naturally the RedGalaxy blog feed should be one of the first you add to your reader!