Imagine having all of your friends’ MySpace postings and every newspaper in the country delivered to your desktop. Learn what Moby did on Halloween, learn when iTunes adds new music or even have Google contact you when anyone on the Internet posts content containing your name. Welcome to the world of Real Simple Syndication. RSS is among the fastest growing outlets for Internet users to get information.
“I don’t read anything I can’t get on [RSS],” said computer and information sciences senior Charles Meyers. “It’s a great way to get news sites and Web pages in one place.”
RSS works like a television set. Much like TV channels, Web sites and blogs can send out RSS feeds with their sites’ content free of charge. The feeds are then read in special programs, called RSS readers, where the user can view and sort through all of the channels.
“RSS is computer notification at its simplest,” said Ambler Campus librarian Derik Badman.
Want your local news? The Web site www.NBC10.com can have it delivered everyday to an RSS reader either through a Web site or directly to your computer’s desktop. The same can be said for sports, entertainment, comics, your grandmother’s blog and just about any other topic.
“If you read a lot of news or blogs you can have that information sent to you without visiting the sites every day,” Badman said.
Be up to date on current events for your political science class, have the latest juicy water cooler chat or just satisfy those news-junkie cravings. Here’s how to get up and running in the world of RSS, all for free.
First, you will need a program to read the RSS feeds, commonly called RSS readers or news aggregators. One of the Web’s most popular readers is Bloglines, at www.bloglines.com. Because Bloglines is not a program you download, but a Web site, you can access your feeds anywhere, and it doesn’t matter whether you own a Mac or a PC. The program is easy to use and works like any e-mail account, providing useful help files to guide you along the way. Complete the simple registration form by confirming your account via e-mail and you should be up and running.
Another option is to download a program to your computer’s desktop. RssReader, at www.rsreader.com, is a choice for many. Its simple layout should help the user to quickly feel comfortable using the program.
RSS feeds are sent out as Uniform Resource Locators similar to the address typed into the address bar of a Web browser. Most RSS feeds sites will have a small, square orange logo with RSS or XML typed in white. Clicking on the logos will take you to a page with a lot of indecipherable code. Pay no mind to the gibberish on the screen, just copy what is written in the address bar. This URL is the actual feed.
Go back to the Bloglines page, click “add” and paste the feed into the “blog feed or URL” text box. Some pages even have a “subscribe with Bloglines” button. Or, if you are using RssReader, click the “add” button on the top toolbar and paste your feed. RssReader will even validate that the feed exists.
Both programs allow users to group their feeds. If you’re having difficulty finding feeds, scroll to the bottom of the page. Most sites have a RSS link among their site categories on their navigation bars, or go to www.feedster.com and search through millions of feeds on your favorite topics.
So, now that you have unlimited information at your disposal, where do you start? Although each person will want different information, there are some more popular and useful feeds. Most of the feeds can be found on the site navigation of their respective pages. Keep an eye out for the orange XML logo.
New York Times – The world famous newspaper-www.nytimes.com.
Boing Boing – ‘A directory of wonderful things’-www.boingboing.net.
Wired Magazine – ‘A pioneer in online journalism’-www.wired.com.
Electablog – For the political junkie-www.electablog.com.
Lifehacker – Tips on daily life-www.lifehacker.com.
Slashdot – A go-to blog for nerds-www.slashdot.org.
E! Entertainment News – The feed of the E! TV channel – www.eonline.com.
Yahoo! Sports – Get sports updates according to the team-www.sports.yahoo.com.
For The Temple News, scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Article Syndication.” The Temple library Web site has a feed as well at https://blog.library.temple.edu/liblog/.
Many United States Senators even have feeds for their blogs, such as Sens. Barack Obama (D., Ill.) and Russ Feingold (D., Wis.).
Don’t stop there. Your favorite site or blog most likely has an RSS feed. Computer Services plans to fully integrate RSS into TUportal 2.0.
With a little exploring, you can be on your way to being an informed America in no time … or at least knowing who Jennifer Aniston’s new hubby is.
Sean Blanda can be reached at email@example.com.