RSS feeds; or how to put blogs in your life
Most Australians don't have a clue what an RSS Feed is - but that's
changing quickly. They've either heard passing reference to them - or to BLOGS - on cable TV or they've seen mysterious little RSS or XML
buttons popping up on websites everywhere.
If you're like us, you might have clicked on one of
those little RSS or XML website buttons and ended up with a page
full of code that looks a lot like raw html.
Maybe then, like us, you checked out RSS on Google. ...Only to read about XML, RDF, RSS, Atom, Syndication Feed, Aggregator, Parsing,
Validators, News feed, web feed, site feed...what does it all mean?
Your browser couldn't display it, you can't make sense of it, so
you might have given up, saying: "This is not for me! This only
applies to the techno-geeks, or the big content sites - what does it have to do with my life?"
First of all, if you don't already know, BLOG is just short for web log and is just a newer name for the old web based newsletter.
They tend to be a bit more crisp, direct and casual - showcasing the opinions and personality of the writer.
When the content is no longer fresh, the old blogs are moved to an archive - usually accessible by a link at the bottom of the blog page.
RSS in simple language
RSS stands for Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication and uses XML (eXtensible Markup Language) as a format.
So when you find a site with a BLOG you want to keep up with, if it's available through an RSS Feed, it can viewed by web surfers in one of two ways which are much easier than revisiting the site whenever you happen to remember it:
1. by browsing using an RSS directory or RSS Search Engine.
These are generally free but you have to set up a login and password.
Three examples are BlogLines, NewsIsFree and Feedster. You'll be able to store your favourite "feeds", perform RSS Feed searches, refer feeds to friends, and more.
If you're already a yahoo member, you can read and organise favourite feeds there once you've logged in. Also there's a new browser competing with Internet Explorer and Netscape: Foxfire, which is set up to read feeds automatically.
2. by using RSS software (an aggregator).
This automatically downloads the latest updates of the feeds you've "subscribed to" to your desktop with your email. This is like an email subscription without having to sign up or share personal data with a website or list owner.
If you want to download an aggregator, here are a few:
RSSReader, FeedReader or NewsGator (NewsGator is made to work in Microsoft Outlook)
The only aggregator we know of for the MAC platform is NetNewsWire - also available here. This currently comes as a 30 day trial demo. Let us know if you come across another.
The growing trend is to read the internet by RSS Feeds, not browsing.
You can jump online, and using either an RSS Service or an RSS Reader, quickly check current headlines, local weather, new articles on your favourite sites, etc. This new style of gathering information saves time compared with visiting search engines, typing in remembered url's or even accessing your browser's Favorites Menu.
Best of all? No SPAM.