Public Service: RSS Feeds

Date October 25, 2007

If you’re reading this via the RSS feed, then move on — there’s nothing new here.

If you’re reading this via e-mail or on the web site, then this might be interesting. There’s nothing really pertinent to the Wilson Family, but it’s cool stuff nonetheless.

Do you have a handful (or two handfuls) of web sites that you visit regularly? Or, that you sort of wish you visited regularly, but it’s actually a hassle to type in the URL or navigate to a bookmark, so you don’t get to it? OR…you go to it regularly, but half the time they haven’t updated content since the last time you went?

RSS is the answer. It’s actually a great way to check a bunch of web sites at a glance to see if they have new content posted and scan that content very quickly to see if there’s any content of interest. And immediately read the content with zero or 1 clicks. That’s what RSS does. And, RSS functionality is built in to Internet Explorer 7 (there are also a ton of more robust RSS readers that have additional functionality that are free…but IE 7 works fine for me, so I’m not equipped to speak to them — I may switch over to the built-in functionality in Firefox…at some point).

RSS is a “pull” technology. You subscribe to a “feed,” and then your reader (IE 7 in my case) worries about checking and pulling down content from that feed. I knew of RSS technology and even subscribed to a couple of feeds for the last year, but it wasn’t until Kristin Farwell, a friend and co-worker at Bulldog Solutions, put together a quick presentation to talk about RSS that I got serious about it. It was quick and easy…and it’s now where I get a good portion of content from the web.

To use RSS in IE 7, just look for the RSS icon:

Click on it. Then, you may have to read a little bit, but you’re basically looking to “subscribe to this feed.” You can set up folders for different types of content to keep yourself organized.

After that, it’s just a matter of opening your RSS pane (you can keep it open all the time) and scanning through and clicking on different feeds to which you’re subscribed.

Not exactly extensive documentation, but Google will help you find lots of more specific tutorials. If you have time and still don’t quite get how it works, check out the video below.

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