Instant Info with RSS
Do you find yourself checking numerous websites during the day to get breaking news, read the most recent blog postings or latest gossip? If you thrive on information, there's an easy way to get it with RSS.
Depending on whom you ask, RSS is an acronym for Really Simple Syndication, Real-time Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary. Regardless of the name, the end result is the same. You subscribe to data feeds and get up-to-the-minute information delivered to your desktop or mobile phone.
Feeds can consist of news, sports, weather, blog entries or almost any content that the site updates regularly, including audio and video. The moment new information is published, it's automatically sent to you. What you get is a web page with an assembly of all your feeds, customized according to your interests. Instead of checking multiple websites for updates, it's all waiting for you in one place--an information junkie's dream come true.
Below is a typical page, which includes feeds from the New York Times, CNN, BBC News, and Reuters.
How It Works
To get started, you'll need an RSS Reader. Most are free and easy to master. Two that we recommend include these:
Google Reader is Web-based, which means that you don't have to download any software. You just set up an account (it's free) and then subscribe to the RSS feeds of your choice. A key advantage is that you can log on with a web browser to access your custom RSS page. You can also share your page with friends and family.
SharpReader requires that you download and install the free software on your computer. Once you've done that, you can subscribe to feeds and organize them into categories.
Subscribing to feeds can be done in a number of ways. When you visit your favorite sites, look for small graphics like this:
They indicate that the site has RSS feeds available. Now open your RSS reader. You can enter the address of the site in the search box and click the Subscribe button. You can also use the reader to search for subject-related content. For instance, if you're interested in politics, the reader will identify feeds for you.
Once you've subscribed to feeds, you can start reading all the latest information. At any time, you can delete a feed or add new ones. RSS makes it really simple.
Last update: Jan 7, 2010