NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, May 2010
What are RSS Feeds?
By Constance Brown,
President, Canton Alliance Massillon Users Group, OH
The Memory Map, September 2009

constance (at) mystepco.com (click to email author)

This article has been obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for publication by APCUG member groups; all other uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).

What are RSS Feeds? According to the Wikipedia, “RSS (most commonly translated as ‘Really Simple Syndication’ but sometimes ‘Rich Site Summary’) is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video in a standardized format.”

Let’s see whether we can translate that into everyday language. Most of us have favorite sites or blogs we visit regularly - perhaps news, genealogy, weather, or other types of sites that are updated regularly. Instead of having to click on bookmarks to navigate between sites, or typing the URL of each site, it is much faster to have one location that posts links to the latest updated information. That is done by subscribing to an RSS Reader. Both Yahoo & Google offer readers, and there are other choices as well.

I subscribed to the Google Reader by visiting http://www.google.com/reader. Because I already had a Gmail account, I was able to login immediately and add subscriptions. That is done in one of two ways: clicking on an icon or copying code by clicking on the URL of the feed and pasting it in Add Subscription on your Google Reader home page.

Let’s walk through two examples. We’ll start by clicking on Add Subscription. A search bar opens that allows us to search for an RSS Feed. I will type The Repository and click Add. Links pop up on the right side of the screen, one of them titled The Repository. Next I will click the + sign by Subscribe. I am then given the option of adding the link to a folder. I want to create a new folder titled News, so I will click Add to a Folder and select New Folder. A screen pops up that allows me to name the folder. Super simple!

Let’s look at a different example. In this case we want to add a link to The Christian Law Association at http://www.christianlaw.org/cla/. While browsing their web site, we find an orange broadcast symbol that stands for link to an RSS Feed. When we click on it, a page of code pops up! No need to panic! We will click on the URL and copy it (I use Ctl + C), open the Google Reader, click on Add Subscription, paste the URL in the search box, and click Add.

Some sites let us add a subscription by simply checking an icon that says Google Reader. We click the link and a window pops up that allows us to login to our account and add the link.

In the future it is simple to go to http://www.google.com/reader, login, and view updates. We can indicate that we want all messages older than one day to be marked as Read. Now only today’s unread links are bold. We can organize links into folders. Yes, we can unsubscribe and we can add new subscriptions, change the folders in which they are stored, view the links as lists, share, search within links, and more.

Why not try it using this technology. You will get the latest information in one easily accessible place, thus maximizing precious time.

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