Thursday, January 10, 2008

Know your RSS from your elbow

Several times recently, I've been talking to people and they tell me they've added something to their blog. I say 'Yes, I saw, I've subscribed to your RSS feed' and they look at me blankly and say 'My what?'

This baffles me. These are people who write blogs, which have RSS feeds, but they don't use them and don't know what they are.

RSS feeds are great. They mean you don't have to keep checking to see if your favourite blog has been updated. Subscribe and you'll get a tip-off when there's something new.

To use RSS you need some kind of news reader (some software which receives the new stuff and then tells you about it). There are lots available; decent web browsers have them built-in. I use Google Reader, which is web-based, so I can pick up new stuff at home and work.

With Google Reader, all I have to do is click on the orange icon which appears in the address bar of Firefox. Then I can review all the new posts to my favourite blogs in a few seconds, without having to go looking for them (if I'm at work and not using Firefox, I can just tell Google Reader the address of the blog or page (BBC News also uses RSS, for example) and it will find the feed and subscribe to it).

Go on, start using RSS and you can spend more time in the field. Or in bed. Your call.
  • I've just started 'sharing' my favourite blog posts in the panel on the right, headed 'good stuff', also using Google Reader.