If you consider yourself a bit of an internet amateur, you may be confused by the terms “RSS” or “Feed” that show up on most websites these days. What is this RSS business, and why should you care? It’s actually quite helpful.
Let’s say you have a habit of visiting several different websites each day: cnn.com, foxnews.com, sun-sentinel.com, drwmag.wordpress.com (of course), etc. It takes a while to visit all of the sites, and when you get there it may be difficult to figure out what’s new since your last visit. Maybe you go, look around, and see that there’s nothing new! What a waste of time, right?
With RSS, websites send out notifications whenever they post new content – they “feed” you the information. So you’ll never waste time looking for the new stuff. You can subscribe to the feeds by clicking on the orange RSS logo shown on many sites, or by looking near the top of the page for the letters “RSS”. Some web browsers, such as Firefox, will show the RSS logo in the space at the top of your browser where you type in web addresses. Clicking on it will subscribe you to that site’s feed.
Furthermore, many sites have several different feeds so you can customize what is sent to you. CNN.com, for example, has different feeds for Top Stories, Recent Stories, Entertainment, etc. Just find the section you want to keep track of and subscribe to its RSS feed using one of the methods described above.
You need to have a way to view all of these feeds, of course. Many modern browsers have this feature built in, and the feature will be activated the first time you subscribe to a feed. Personally I prefer to use a free program called Netnewswire as I find it very user-friendly. I have hundreds of sites that I keep track of, a task that would be impossible without an RSS reader. But with Netnewswire I have all the latest news in one location.
Got questions? Leave them in the comments below.