I’m often fond of saying that learning technology is akin to learning a foreign language – you need to master the vocabulary before you can become comfortable using the language. I was reminded of this recently when discussing RSS feeds, subscriptions, and RSS readers with a colleague. My use of words that they didn’t understand made me realize that maybe there were other people in independent schools that were unaware of how to complete this very necessary technology skill. As a result, I would like to teach you how to subscribe to an RSS feed.
RSS (Really Simple Syndication), according to Wikipedia, “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…Web feeds benefit publishers by letting them syndicate content automatically. They benefit readers who want to subscribe to timely updates from favored websites or to aggregate feeds from many sites into one place.” I’ve written about the importance of subscribing to RSS feeds in order to monitor your brand as well as how to quickly read blogs that you value.
The process of subscribing to an RSS feed is actually the marriage of what you’re going to read (RSS feed) and where you’re going to read it (RSS Reader). My RSS reader of choice is Google Reader for the following reasons:
- It’s free.
- It’s part of, and integrated with, your Google account.
- It has a similar interface to GMail.
- The user interface is simple,clean, and customizable.
Once you’ve signed up for Google Reader you’ll need to located the RSS feed that you’d like to subscribe too. The universal icon for RSS is pictured on the top right. Once you’ve located that icon on the blog that you would like to follow, click the icon which will usually open a new window.
Next, click the “Add a subscription” button. Paste the URL feed into the empty dialogue box and then click add.
Finally, enjoy your new RSS subscription.
Why does this matter? Why would I use an RSS feed and RSS reader? The beauty of using an RSS reader is that is allows you to consume a large of amount of content in a very short amount of time. I currently subscribe to over 100 blogs which would mean that to keep up with the most current information I would have to visit each of those 100 blogs numerous times a day and then take the time to read the information I found interesting. With Google Reader, all I have to do is set-up the RSS subscription and each time those blogs are updated I will receive a notice in Google Reader which will then allow me to read the article within Google Reader. I can’t tell you how much of time savings this has been to me.
If you have any questions about how to subscribe to an RSS feed please let me know in the comments section below. I would also love to hear what people are using for their RSS reader if it is something other than Google Reader. Thanks and good luck!