Wednesday, November 19, 2008

RSS Feeds Can Change Your Life

Most people I come in contact with on a daily basis have no idea what an RSS feed is - and thats a shame. RSS is an amazing technology that can make your digital life a lot simpler.

What is RSS?
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. Basically, it is a method by which websites, blogs and podcasts deliver real-time content to subscribers.

How is it Used?
Instead of constantly visiting your favorite web site in search of new content, you can have that content delivered to you as its posted. That means you can be the first to know what's going on in the news, the first to get sports scores, the first to know stock information and the first to know what's being posted on favorite blog (ahem) - all without having to look for it. The information comes to you.

Not sold yet on RSS yet?
Let me give you a personal example. Right now I'm looking for a new apartment. In New York City, apartments are occupied almost as fast as they are posted. Well, Craigslist recently launched an RSS feature that allows users to subscribe to specific listings. As you can imagine, this makes my search a lot easier and a lot less stressful. I receive the listings in real time as they are being posted in my RSS reader.

Other common uses for RSS
- RSS is what's responsible for delivering the newest episode of your favorite podcast.
- Through RSS, you can subscribe to feeds from message boards you frequent.
- Many of the popular social networking sites, such as Facebook and Plaxo, offer RSS feeds which inform you of friend requests, new messages and friend updates. This alternative is wayyy better than email notifications that crowd your inbox (otherwise known as bacn).

How to read RSS feeds
To view RSS feeds, you first need an RSS Reader. You can download an RSS application on your computer, or you can use a web-based reader. I recommend the web-based route as its easily accessible no matter what computer you are using. My personal favorite is Google Reader as it fully integrates with my Google account. If you already have a GMail account, you have access to Google Reader.

There are also some great RSS readers for mobile phones. I highly recommend Viigo, which is available on Blackberries and Windows Mobile phones. It is an amazing RSS program and, by far, the most frequently used program on my Blackberry.

How to subscribe to RSS feeds
To subscribe to an RSS feed, there is usually an icon (that looks like the image attached to this post) somewhere on the web page or in the address bar. Depending on your RSS reader, you can usually add the feed as if it were a Bookmark (or Favorite Place on AOL).

Joe Says: If you don't currently use RSS, give it a shot! I promise you won't be sorry. You can start by clicking the RSS icon on the sidebar of this blog and subscribe to JoeSaidSo ;)

Originally posted 4/3/08

This is Joe, signing off.

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