Everyone has websites that they know and love. They go back to them time and time again. Well as spend more and more time with your fingers tied to a keyboard (or for the true internet beginners… with their hand on a mouse!) the number of sites that you need to check on your rotation will increase to an unreasonably large number. So how do you keep track? The answer is Really Simple Syndication or RSS. I know that most people have seem the RSS symbol, but I know that far too many people don’t use it.
It’s tough for me to fathom that the internet newbies aren’t using RSS, while the internet hipsters are already giving RSS a post-mortem. I don’t believe that RSS is dead, and certainly not in favour of Twitter (which is a strange and wonderful beast, but that will be explained in a future post). So here is what RSS is and why you must embrace it…
RSS is a full site summary of all content summarized in one document (XML format) so that it is machine read-able so that it may be consumed by many different platforms, usually called feed readers or feed aggregators. In my mind there is only one feed reader worth using that is the very excellent Google Reader (reader.google.com). What this gives you is a common place to view the new content from all the sites that you regularly follow. It will give you an unread count of new items from all the sites, that is updated roughly hourly.
It lets you keep track of sites that would normally take hours to follow and do it constantly. To put it in perspective I have 357 feeds in my reader now, and I am able to keep mostly up-to-date in the items I wish to read (which certainly isn’t everything). There is no way I would be able to do this without a reader, as going to 357 sites daily taking 30 seconds per site (not reading anything) would take 3 full hours. Having this inbox of articles to read is simply awesome.
Adding sites to your feed reader of choice is very easy, just click the RSS icon in the address bar like this one seen in Firefox.
It will prompt you with what you would like to add the feed to, pick google reader and you are away to the races. It honestly will change the way that you view the internet. The idea of ‘surfing’ will be a thing of the past and you will have Google Reader (or *sigh* some other reader) open all day to see what is new. It is a real time saver, and lets you keep up with everything that you want to know.
So take a moment and add the feed for this blog to your reader: TylerOnEverything.com RSS Feed.
Beyond the time saving abilities of this sort of setup it has the added benefit of giving you your own microcosm for google to search. Think of it your own private google!
So embrace RSS and stop surfing blindly.