Ever see this symbol before? This post is not about RSS (Real Simple Syndication) or how it works. It’s about the the computer literate folks I encounter every day who are not utilizing the power of RSS feeds to simplify their lives.
Unless owners of sites block their feeds, any website with dynamic (frequently updated content) has a feed. The feed updates and syndicates changes, i.e., new blog posts, updates, news articles, for anyone to grab.
So when I am discussing a particular blog or site with someone who just surfs to it occasionally, I always ask if they “subscribe”. I am often met with a blank look when I tell them they can automatically receive updates every time their favorite blogger posts, or their favorite news outlet adds a new story. You can subscribe to the feeds for sites you enjoy through a piece of aggregation software like Google Reader, and like magic, receive all the latest updates for everything you like on the web.
A big piece of my connection with the world comes through my 211 feed subscriptions, which include Google and Twitter alerts, specified feeds for local and national news, social media, technology, and real estate posts from industry leaders, and some fun stuff too. I don’t spend much time surfing and Googling, because I have the content I want served up to me. If I find a great blog or site, I just add it to the list. Sometimes when I open the reader, I there are 300-500 articles in queue; I can easily whittle the list by headlines, to efficiently get through a lot of fresh news quickly, while bookmarking the best. I don’t touch newspapers, or much other print media, because by the time something gets to print, it’s old news.
There is a lot of power in RSS for syndicating content across the wide spectrum of media, and many tools to spread the word via RSS. In future posts I will discuss leveraging feeds, but for now it would make me happy if you started getting at least some of your favorite online content served up to you like a big bowl of grits in the morning. Play around with the Google Reader and see how easy it is to subscribe to any site that sports the orange symbol above- start by subscribing to this one!
If you use your Google Reader as a major information source, let me know in the comments along with how many subscriptions you have. Also, if RSS is foreign to you, don’t be embarrased to comment. I would love to discuss.