What is an RSS Feed, and Why Should I Care?

A really simple breakdown:

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication.  To further simplify that, RSS takes blog posts and news updates (called feeds) and broadcasts them across the internet. RSS readers (websites or programs also called feed readers or aggregators) can then collect the feeds to which the reader has subscribed and present them in one, easy to read location.

So how does all this affect you?

Well, if my blog were the only blog you read, you may not have much use for a feed reader.  However, over time, most people who read one blog will start to accumulate more blogs, and news sources, that they like to follow.  It used to be a chore for me to go from blog to blog to check and see if my friends had updates.  It was even frustrating, at times, to check a blog and see that they hadn’t updated. The feed reader allows you to subscribe to the blogs and news sources you love, and then read the updates in one location.

There are a number of different feed readers you can use: yahoo, newsgator, bloglines, netvibes, and pageflakes just to name a few.  But my favorite is Google’s Reader.  One of the things I like about Reader is it gives you options in how you view the posts: there are a number of sorting options, you can categorize the blogs, and you can quickly browse all the headlines or have it open up to show each article in full like a magazine.

How to Subscribe:

First of all, you need to set up an account with a reader.  Here’s the link again to set up with Google’s Reader.  If you already have a Google account (blogger and gmail both count as Google accounts) you can just sign into Reader using that account.

To subscribe to CoffeeJitters (process should be similar for most other blogs as well) look for the RSS button in the upper right hand corner.  Mine says “Subscribe via RSS,” most blogs should have something along the same lines. Click the button.

It should take you to a page that shows you a list of readers from which to choose.  Click the button for the reader you chose.

If you select Google, it may give you the option to choose between Google Homepage and Google Reader – select Google Reader. Bam! You’re there.

If you want to leave a comment on a post, just click on the headline and it will take you right to that blog so you can make your mark.

Happy reading.

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