Tracking What is Going On: RSS Feeds, Blogs and News Articles – HOW DO I FOLLOW THIS BLOG?

One of the blessings of the internet is the amount of information available, produced nearly daily. One of the banes of the internet is the large amount of information available and produced every day. It can be overwhelming. While google and other search engines are a great way to find things we often find sites that we go to often that are updated on a regular basis and because we like the content and the perspective we want to track what is being produced as it is being produced. An analogy can be found in the newspaper or magazine. There are many available, but when we find one we enjoy reading with the best information and our favorite perspective, we subscribe to it. This can also be done with certain types of websites through the power of a technology called RSS feeds.

What is an RSS Feed?

As stated in,

RSS (Rich Site Summary) is a format for delivering regularly changing web content. Many news-related sites, weblogs and other online publishers syndicate their content as an RSS Feed to whoever wants it… RSS solves a problem for people who regularly use the web. It allows you to easily stay informed by retrieving the latest content from the sites you are interested in. You save time by not needing to visit each site individually. You ensure your privacy, by not needing to join each site’s email newsletter. The number of sites offering RSS feeds is growing rapidly and includes big names like Yahoo News.

Sites with RSS Feeds

You can tell if a site has an rss feed if in your toolbar(internat explorer) or address bar(firefox) you see the orange rss feed symbol (on left). You might also see this some where in the site itself. There are two types of feed technologies, Atom & RSS. Most feed readers can read either or both.

Just about every national and local paper has an RSS feed(e.g. New York Times, USA Today, Fort Worth Star Telegram, google your local or interest paper and look for the feed symbol) as does most online version of magazines(e.g. Christianity Today, US News & World Report) websites(e.g. Crosswalk news, Internet Evangelism Bulletin), and other media outlets (e.g. CNN, Fox News, etc.) .  Other pages that have constantly changing content also use RSS feeds. The most ubiquitous use of RSS is in blogs. Blogs use RSS to let people know when new posts have ben published. There is not definitive directory of RSS feeds because new ones are produced every day and many sites have multiple RSS feeds. This site for example has at least 5. You can SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG’S FEED HERE (see on right for way to subscribe via e-mail too) A podcast is a specialized RSS feed of audio items.

How do I read all these feeds?

The beauty of RSS feeds is that you can read all the articles that you are interested in one place via a feed aggregator. Picture getting updated news from all the sources that you are interested in once place to scan an read all in ONE PLACE. An Aggregator, takes all the updated articles, blog posts, updates, etc. and puts them in a single location in a form that you can scan, browse and read. If you use Gmail, MSN, Yahoo, sbcglobal, att, or Hotmail as your primary e-mail providers, there is a good chance you already are using RSS technology without even knowing it. MyYahoo is essentially a RSS feed reader as is GoogleReader, and There are other dedicated web and application based feed aggregators like Feed demon, Bloglines, and Newsgator.  (The top 10 free aggregators) Most of these have mobile phone versions as well for when you are on the go. Also many e-mail readers like Mozilla Thuderbird, Windows Live Mail, Microsoft Outlook have the ability to aggregate RSS feeds. As a beginner, it is probably best to use one of the RSS readers that come with your e-mail service. For example, I primarily use MyYahoo but when I want to do heavy ready, I use GoogleReader. GoogleReader is actually the most used feed aggregator on the internet because of its power and its simplicity.

How do I subscribe and read my feeds?

When you find a site with the ubiquitous RSS symbol, merely click on the symbol either on the site or on your browsers’s toolbar or URL bar and you will be given a choice of types of feeds. It really doesn’t matter which you choose. Select one.

In internet explorer, you will be shown some of the feed and there will be a link to subscribe to the feed.

When you click on the link, you will be asked which feed aggregator that the computer knows about to use, chose one and put the “subscribe” button.

In Firefox, on clicking the Feed logo, you will be immediately asked what aggregator you want to read the feed in,

Then your aggregator will ask you if you want to keep the feed and once you confirm that you do, the feed will become one of the many feeds that you track on a regular basis.

Reading the Feed

Once you have subscribed to several feeds, all you have to do is go to your feed aggregator to look at your feeds in one location.

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