Based on the title of this article, you may have the following 3 questions:
- What is RSS?
- What is an RSS “reader”?
- Why should I care?
First, a Wikipedia definition of RSS:
RSS Rich Site Summary (originally RDF Site Summary, often dubbed Really Simple Syndication) 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. An RSS document (which is called a “feed”, “web feed”, or “channel”) includes full or summarized text, plus metadata such as publishing dates and authorship.
RSS feeds benefit publishers by letting them syndicate content automatically. A standardized XML file format allows the information to be published once and viewed by many different programs. They benefit readers who want to subscribe to timely updates from favorite websites or to aggregate feeds from many sites into one place.
In other words, RSS pushes content to you automatically whenever a website updates it’s content. Usually denoted by the following orange icon, you can sign up for an RSS feed using any RSS reader.
Which brings us to your next question, “What is an RSS reader?”:
An RSS reader is an application (either stand alone or web-based) that aggregates multiple RSS feeds into a single location for your viewing pleasure. My current favorite is Google Reader (www.reader.google.com) which requires a Google account to sign in to.
Why should you care?
You shouldn’t care about why I love my RSS reader, you should care about why you should love your RSS reader!
You should love your RSS reader because an RSS reader can become one of your best sources of information. By aggregating all the best feeds on the web, you are rolling your own, custom search engine. Why search for a term like “RSS” on google and then have to sort through 100s of questionable sources to figure out the best answer when you can search 10 or 20 sources that you have personally vetted?
Depending on your RSS reader – your search abilities will vary. Google Reader allows you to search across all your RSS feeds or search in customized folders (groupings) of feeds. For example, I have folders for the following topics:
If I’m trying to research a formula in Excel, I will start by searching all blogs in my Excel folder – if I can’t find results there, I will branch out to a generic Google or Bing search. alternatively, if I have heard about an interesting topic in the news, I’ll try to find articles in my News folder – a list of newspaper blogs that I believe offer better quality articles than the generic newspaper website.
To recap: You will love your RSS reader because it aggregates the best of the web into one location and allows you to customize your search to bring back results from sources you already trust.
Share why you love youre RSS reader in the comments below!