A friend and I were discussing RSS the other day. We've come to the conclusion that it's a generational thing - people over a certain age either don't know what RSS is or don't seem to understand what it's good for. Both of us have run across people of the over-50 variety who look at us cross-eyed when we suggest to them that they should use a blog reader.
(No offense to anyone out there, over or under 50... I mean no disrespect. It's merely an observation I've made that people over a certain age TEND to not have a clue about RSS. I realize that's a broad generalization, though.)
"A blog reader? What's that?," I've been asked, "I just click on these tabs here to check all my blogs." Says the woman who has 50 browser tabs open at all time.
Really... I beg of you... there is a better way... an easier way... it's called Google Reader.
There are actually quite a few blog readers out there. Google Reader is free and probably the most versatile that I've found. Even if you one day graduate to a more full-featured reader... most are still compatible with Google Reader. I personally have tried several other free web-based readers... and always seem to come back to Google Reader.
Feel free to try any blog reader... really... I won't be offended. They pretty much all work the same way, so this tutorial can still work for you.
So anyway, first things first.
You need a Google account to use Google Reader, which you already have if you have a Blogspot blog or a Gmail account. If not, it's free. Sign up. It's easy.
RSS just means "Really Simple Syndicate". It basically means... a really easy way to have your blogs come to YOU instead of the other way around.
It a lot of times looks like this:
... but could also look like this:
... or this:
Basically anything that says "Subscribe" or shows a picture of the RSS button will usually work. There's also something called "Atom Feed" which seems to work; I'm not at all sure what "Atom" refers to in this context, although that doesn't really matter. My point is... find the subscription feed link.
Next, when you click on this button/link, it will usually ask you which reader you want to subscribe with - tell it Google (or whichever reader you choose). Now whenever you go to Google Reader, every time ANY of the 5,189 blogs you follow has an update, your reader will just know. It'll be like your own personal newspaper!
So... one link... 5,189 blogs... gotta love Google Reader.
RSS is just a fancy way of describing the news feed that you're reading. Any blog or news website has an RSS feed. Anything that updates with any sort of frequency has an RSS feed. Even sites like Etsy have RSS feeds (for each individual shop), so feel free to "subscribe" to these shops to stay updated with their latest wares for sale.
A blog reader is a way of grouping together these feeds all into one place. It will tell you the number of unread for each feed so that you know which sites you need to read next. You still have to click through to the site to make comments, so don't worry, you'll still get to see their beautiful site design!
this makes sense. If not, feel free to ask. I'm sure there's something I didn't explain very well here. I know when I discovered blog readers, it seriously helped organize my online reading to-do list. Hopefully it can do the same for you! :)