I am astounded in my daily jobbing by how many people; apparently highly technical some of them, don’t use any form of RSS reader to go about their daily internetting. Instead they go from one website to another, checking, yes checking to see if things have updated. It’s a very 2002 way of working, and I think it’s time to in the words of Garth Elgar “Live in the NOW!”
So what follows is a public information blog, on how to use an RSS Reader to make the internet a quicker place to live.
RSS for dummies
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, what it actually is – is a special version of the content on a website, delivered in a way that means a computer can work out what is new or has changed. this means you can have computer programmes (aggragators or readers) that read these files from all over the place, and then tell you what has changed. this means you don’t need to travel the web looking at all your favorite websites incase they change, because your reader will tell you when it happens.
So how do you do this ? well there are really only three steps
- Get an RSS Reader.
- Add your favourite sites RSS to it.
- Read stuff
Get an RSS Reader
RSS Readers come in two types basic desktop and web, I personally use Google Reader, it’s a web based one – it’s good for me because I use loads of different computers so what I have or haven’t read follows me around the internet. Desktop ones are good too, they have the advantage of storing things locally so you can read the internet when your not connected to the internet (oh how 2006 of you!)
Adding Sites to the Reader
This bit is easy, (in decent web browsers!) look at the address bar at the top of this page … see the little orange icon ? that’s your way in – click on it. In most good browsers you now get a choice. of what to do – you should see some from of subscribe page, that’s your web browser trying to put the sites feed into your RSS Reader, if you let it – then your RSS reader will forever keep track of this site and tell you when it changes. simple 🙂
Once you’ve added sites to the RSS reader you can set about your soon to be daily / weekly / hourly (insert obsession) task of checking the internet. All you do is go to the RSS reader and look at new / update items and skip down them one by one. for me in google that’s a lot of ‘j’ (next) presses in Google. and I’m done. typically it takes me around 10-15 minutes to skip through a day’s worth of updates (around 300 for me) and that is really all i would need to do to keep up with the bits of internet I am interested in.
Sorry if that all got a bit basic, but really it does astound me sometimes the people you think would have this sussed that don’t and it makes the world so much easier to follow. For me I’ve read 8,919 items from 150 different web sites over the last 30 days – there really is no way I could have done that by just clicking around.