A few years ago, my mentor gave me a quick advice, which in turn has changed my life as clichéd as it sounds. He said I should make it a point of spending time online without using the usual refinements like Facebook, YouTube, email or other form of direct entertainment online. Initially targeted at spending an hour online, now I have some interesting hours online nearly every other day, which I should say has enabled me to even write about these Inquisitive topics. Eventually there are quite a few websites that I was reading regularly, blogs that I was reading and what came out of it was, that I started to spend too much time in visiting those sites / blogs to pick up the information that I wanted to read. Then I stumbled upon RSS.
Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication, the expanded version of RSS is actually a web format that is used to read “feeds” from sites. What it means is that people with RSS feeds on their sites have set up a sort of a radio channel for their websites, where you will constantly pick up any changes or posts that they add, however the advantage over radio is that it shows them by posts, so you can pick to read what you want to, where as you can opt to not read ones that do not really interest you. The video here should help better understand RSS.
Why RSS? Benefits and Reasons for using RSS
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. You ensure your privacy, by not needing to join each site’s email newsletter.
What do I need to do to read an RSS Feed? RSS Feed Readers and News Aggregators
Feed Reader or News Aggregator software allow you to grab the RSS feeds from various sites and display them for you to read and use. A RSS reader can be web based application, desktop-based standalone application, browser based application or a mobile device based app. Each of these readers has their own features and some are free while others are not. Those who have to access their RSS feeds from multiple computers prefer a web based RSS reader. Those who access RSS from a single computer generally choose the desktop applications. While choosing your desktop-based application, make sure that you are keeping into account the operating system platform that you are using. All recent browser applications also have an inbuilt RSS reader. These browsers also have a finder technology that automatically spots the RSS widget on the website that the browser is visiting. In addition, RSS feeds can be received on mobile phones. What more, you can even connect your RSS feeds with your social network channels like twitter and facebook. The services like twitterfeed and RSS graffiti makes this possible. RSS feeds can also be converted to emails and read from your inbox.
A variety of RSS Readers are available for different platforms. Some popular feed readers include Amphetadesk (Windows, Linux, Mac), FeedReader (Windows), and NewsGator (Windows – integrates with Outlook). There are also a number of web-based feed readers available. My Yahoo, Bloglines, and Google Reader are popular web-based feed readers.
Once you have your Feed Reader, it is a matter of finding sites that syndicate content and adding their RSS feed to the list of feeds your Feed Reader checks. Many sites display a small icon with the acronyms RSS, XML, or RDF to let you know a feed is available.
As an additional step you can chose to beautify the RSS feeds with these plugins for popular browsers such that you can read the news from these sites easily. A great example of the RSS feed beautifier, aggregator and reader is the Feed.ly plugin for Google Chrome, that converts a boring looking interface into a proper magazine style interface.
At the end of the day the name of the game is pulling information from sites that you want and present it to you in the way you want it. So if Melvin’s Inquisitive Mind is on your list of blogs and or sites that you visit usually and want the information to reach you as soon as it is posted, well go ahead give the RSS a try on this blog. Its on the top right, just below the content slideshow.