What is RSS and Why Should I Use It?

What is RSS and Why Should I Use It?

RSS Icon

The semi-standardized RSS icon indicates a link to an RSS feed.

The volume of content available on the internet is growing so fast it is overwhelming. How does anyone keep up? Fortunately, or unfortunately, there is no way to keep up with the internet. But, RSS is a useful tool to help you keep up with the content you care about while reducing the time you need to do so.

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It’s a very easy way for website owners to offer users a subscription to their changing content, reducing the need to check back in to see what’s new. A website owner provides a “feed” URL for you to put into a “reader” application. The link is generally indicated by an icon similar to the one shown. Every time you load the reader, the content is displayed and new content will be available. Keep an eye out for the icon on the right, it is the de facto symbol on the internet for an RSS feed.

There are several major advantages to using an RSS reader.

  1. Control your inbox – The content is separate from your email, so you don’t feel a need to read every message in order to keep up with your inbox. You can open up your reader, take a look at some headlines, read a few posts from your favorite sources, and come back again later. You’ve chosen the feeds you subscribe to, and you can unsubscribe at any time. You don’t need to wait for the webmaster to take you off an email list.
  2. Content comes to you – You don’t need to pull up a website each day to check for new content. Instead, it comes to you. You can simply scour the internet for content that interests you, subscribe to the RSS feeds, and keep up with that content whenever you have time. This is most useful if a website you like is updated irregularly or infrequently.
  3. Mobility – Several RSS readers have mobile applications that allow you to read the crux of the content on your phone or handheld device. Catch up on the news while you’re waiting at the doctor’s office or riding the train home. Some applications even allow you to download as many as 2,000 posts directly to your computer so you can catch up without the internet, such as on that flight to Hong Kong. 

RSS provides a simple tool to help you keep up with the content that is important to you in an ever-expanding internet. Of course, as with everything else on the internet, once you’ve gotten a handle on the basics of RSS, there are several advanced tools to help you refine your incoming content even further. Good luck out there.

To get you started, here’s a list of the top-rated RSS Readers. I like Google Reader, and Outlook can collect RSS feeds, but there is a vast array of choices for you to experiment with. Most are free.

If you would like to keep up with our Blog, you can subscribe to our RSS Feed.

Photo credit: Svilen Mushkatov

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