RSS saves time
Many studies have shown most Internet users don’t use RSS feeds. The rough estimate is usually around 1 in 10 users have adopted it.
If you’re not a heavy Internet user, I suppose I understand. But if you visit more than just a handful of sites each day, RSS feeds can save you a lot of time.
Simply put, RSS feeds are a way for you to get the content you’re looking for from the Internet without having to visit the same group of Web sites everyday.
I’m interested in content provided by dozens of Web sites. RSS allows me to view the newest content from all of the sites in one place. I don’t have to visit each site each day.
Content from all of our Web sites is available as an RSS feed. Gazettextra’s feeds can be found here. WCLO has podcasts and blogs you can subscribe to. WJVL also has podcasts and blogs available via RSS.
So, how do you use it? (There is a screencast below.)
First, you have to decide if you want to use RSS in your Web browser or in your e-mail program. Newer versions of Outlook and Thunderbird e-mail clients offer RSS capability. If you use another e-mail program, search the Internet to see if it can handle RSS feeds.
I recommend finding an online RSS service. This allows you to check in on your feeds when you’re not at your own computer. My personal preference is Google Reader, but there are other services out there, like Bloglines, Feedshow and Newsgator.
Once you set up an account with any of these services, all you need to do is start subscribing to the content you would like to follow. Keep in mind, RSS works for multimedia like it does for plain text. You can, for example, subscribe to shows on Hulu. I never miss episodes of my favorite shows on Hulu because they all show up in my RSS reader after they’re posted.
Subscribing to these services can be tricky because not every Web site presents their feeds in the same way, but they’re making it easier. On our Web sites, you’ll find a simple link that says “RSS”, or for podcasts, “Subscribe”. On other Web sites, you’ll want to keep your eyes pealed for an icon that looks like this:
Once you click on the RSS feed, you need to copy the address that appears in your browser’s address bar so you can paste it into your program or Web-based RSS reader. In Google Reader there’s a big button that says “Add a subscription”. You click on it and paste the address in the box, and you’re subscribed.
If you have trouble, all of the services I’ve mentioned above have robust instructions available and you can always do a Web search for additional help.
One word of caution: I pitched RSS feeds as a way to same time. For some people, it hasn’t actually cut any of the time they’ve spent online. Instead it made it possible to consume a lot more content with the time they have. It depends on how you use it.
If you’re like me, you have a hard time stepping away…especially when your RSS reader keeps feeding you all the content you know you’re going to want.