Monday, April 9, 2007

What, Why, & How to RSS and SubscrIbe

RSS Button

OBJECTIVE: To describe what is RSS and to explain how and why you should use it subscribe to content.

(UPDATE: FIRST  WATCH:  Video: RSS in Plain English)


RSS stands for "Rich Site Summary" or "Really Simple Syndication. It's symbol is usually represented by an orange box with rays or waves pushing outward (see image in this post also in the sidebar under the Syndicate section). What RSS means to the Internet surfer is it allows you to subscribe or "pull" the content from the websites, blogs, vblogs (video blogs), and podcasts they want to stay up to date with . This is in contrast to the old web1.0 way of subscribing where we had to give up your email address and then have the webmaster "push" emails into your inbox.


1) GET A RSS READER/AGGREGATOR. In order to subscribe to RSS feeds you first need to get an RSS Reader. The readers acts as an aggregator, which gives you a personalized newspaper of all the headlines from all the sites you have subscribed to. These headlines are usually phrases or short sentences that link to the site with its complete content. So this allows you to scan all the headlines in an efficient and customized way from all your trusted and most popular sources. The best way to utilize your aggregator is to make it your start page because it starts all your Internet sessions with your web coming to you. My MSN, Yahoo, and Google start pages are some of the most common, however they can limit you to subscribing only to their own content. I use netvibes, to keep track of all my favorite and subscribed podcasts, videos, news, trends, and websites (see my previous posts What, Why, & How to Set Up a Start Page ). I also use google reader to manage all my blog subscriptions. I prefer the web-based, rather than download software on to one computer, RSS Readers because I can access, read, and subscribe from any computer. And I prefer netvibes to the big names because if its web2.0 features and it doesn't shelter you and limit you to the big names and their partners.

2) SURF & SUBSCRIBE. While you surf look for the RSS symbol or subscribe button and click. If you have a big name RSS Reader, some blogs and websites will provide a shortcut button to click and then it automatically throws your subscription into you reader. If not you may have to manually subscribe by cutting and pasting the RSS feed into your reader.  Now that you have your RSS Reader set up, when ever you find a site you enjoy and what to stay up to date you can simply click and subscribe.

3) PRACTICE: SUBSCRIBE TO THIS SITE NOW. Since I realize the importance and the future of RSS and subscribing in the new web I have built in multiple places you can easily click and subscribe to this site. Once you click on these links it will bring you to page that gives a bunch of shortcut buttons to easily subscribe to all of the big name RSS Readers like your Yahoo, Google, or AOL start pages, or netvibes, bloglines, pageflakes, feedlounge, your minis, and list goes on. But if you use a less common feedreader, again you can always cut and paste the feed address you see up in the address bar with the RSS orange button next to it and manually drop it into your feed reader subscriptions. The three ways you can subscribe to this blog (and most others) are:

*At the bottom of this and all of my posts, thanks to feedflare and wordpress pluggins, I will always have a "subscribe to this feed" link that you can click on.

* In the margins of this blog in the sidebar under "Syndicate" you can click on the RSS link, RSS symbol, or one of the shortcut buttons for Google, Yahoo, Netvibes, or Yahoo below.

*Click on the RSS button in the address bar to get the feed address and manually cut and paste it into your reader.


1) Subscribe to this site

2) Watch this video by Peoria Unified School District 10 min video entitled What Is RSS?

3) Read an interesting blog post about how one techie journalist explains his RSS feed reading workflow methodology

4) Watch this screencast on how to subcribe to RSS feeds using Firefox

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