The purpose of this page is to introduce you to the concept of RSS. If you already are a smarty pants and are just looking for the feed links, here are the posts and the comments feeds. Watch the following video and read on if you would like more information on RSS.

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, but describing how it works can get very complicated, so I’ll just tell you what it does and how you can use it to save time. It should just be said that it is a really simple idea. RSS is basically a subscription service. You subscribe to a given website, or rather to the website’s feed. So instead of you visiting a given website to see if there is anything new, the website’s feed notifies you. How does it notify you? You need to obtain what is known as a feed reader (or aggregator). I know, that term may be new to you.

It’s just another web page that you visit that aggregates, or collects, all of the new information that is available from those websites that you normally would visit one at a time. You visit one web page to see what the new offerings are for many pages, thereby saving you time. Think of it as though you were subscribing to a newspaper (only you don’t have to pay). You sign up for a subscription to the feed, and you get new news delivered right to your door, or rather your computer screen.

There are several (feed) readers out there. You can do a Google Search. One of our favorites is Feedly. You can even download standalone programs for your Mac or Windows computer that read feeds. They all work in basically the same way. Just like an email program, they will periodically deliver new items from the feeds you are subscribed to. You may want to start out slow and limit how many feeds you subscribe to. Like your email inbox, your reader will start to fill, so be selective about adding subscriptions. That’s another beauty about RSS. You control what you are subscribed to, so it is much easier to get rid of unwanted subscriptions (as opposed to getting rid of unwanted email).

Here are some additional resources for using and finding interesting RSS feeds:

Wikipedia article on RSS

Educause – 7 Things You Should Know About RSS (PDF)

flickr photo “Newspaper dog thinking RSS” by stylianosm shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

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