Right then, I’ve mentioned RSS quite a few times in the course of my Managing Information Streams series, and its led to quite a few emails and tweets asking what the hell it is and how it works.
So here’s a really basic version of how to get started with it – RSS stands for either ‘Rich Site Summary’ or ‘Really Simple Syndication’ – doesn’t really matter.
What it does for us is that it brings together all the news and blogs that we like to read as though someone very friendly was emailing or IMing us to tell us that they’ve been updated. So if you, for example read this blog and Future Music Talk, then RSS allows us to get a notification, and often to read it without going to that site.
When you build up a portfolio of ‘feeds’ that you want to read, it becomes like an electronic newspaper.
There are loads of ways of reading RSS, but I’m going to focus on one, cos that makes life easy – Google Reader.
if you already have a gmail account or you use the iGoogle homepage, you can add google reader really easily, as it’s already there in your google portfolio. just go to the Google Reader homepage, log in to your account, and there’s even a tuitional video to help you.
Here’s the first thing to do with it – once you’re logged in, and you’ve got the ‘welcome to google reader’ page up, click on the word ‘settings’, then click on the ‘goodies’ tab. At the bottom of that page, is a section headed ‘Subscribe as you surf’ – and there you’ll see the word ‘subscribe’. grab it and drag it to the tool bar at the top of your browser. This will allow you to click on any blog or news page that has an RSS feed and add it to google reader in one click.
Once you’ve done it, come back here and try it with this page. Just click on the toolbar link that says ‘subscribe….’, and you’ll get the google reader page that says at the top ‘you are not subscribed to this feed yet’. So click subscribe, and it’ll be there. then do the same on any other blogs you read.
Here are a couple of tips.
Set up tags/folders in google reader to keep things in chunks – have one labeled ‘news’ for all the sites with loads of updates – that way, you can click on the ‘news’ tag, and then click ‘mark all as read’ to get rid of them on a day when you haven’t got time to read them.
The natural colour of RSS is orange (see the square logo at the top of this page) – wherever you see that, it means there’s RSS around. On most decent browsers (PLEASE tell me you’re not still using Internet Explorer – it’s worse than shit) a little orange RSS icon shows up in the address bar when there’s a feed on the page. Then you can just click your ‘subscribe…’ link, add it, and you’re away.
Think about having the iGoogle page as your homepage – that way you can have your google reader feeds there along with email, twitter, weather, etc. etc.
Use the tips, hints and advice that the Google Reader offers you as you go along. Google are very good at plain english. Make the most of it.
That’ll get you started. We’ll do some more advanced RSS stuffs in a while…by