Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What is an RSS Reader Anyway?

After my last post, I've received a few questions about just what an RSS reader is. You can go and search for definitions for it online and they are good answers. . . But they answer in a very geek-speak sort of way. I'm a visual lady, so I'm gonna break it down in the way that makes the most sense to me.

Let's say that you could custom design a newspaper that was delivered to you everyday. Somehow that newspaper knew exactly what authors you like, what topics you want to read about etc. etc. etc. And, everyday, when you read that newspaper you didn't have to "sift." You had, right in front of you, articles and information from sources you want to read about/hear from. An RSS reader works in (pretty much) that same way.

To begin, you would sign up for a free RSS reader service. My favorite is Bloglines (because I've been using it for years), but I've heard great things about Google Reader (and I think that it offers more features for users than Bloglines too). Signing up is a bit like signing up for a free email service: You have the ability to read blogs from this service, but since you haven't told the service you want to read any blogs you don't have anything to read.

Your first step after signing up, is to tell the RSS reader that you want to read certain things. All of these services are super user-friendly (just like your free email service) and have great tabs etc. In Bloglines you would click on "add" and you will be prompted to enter in the url for the blog. Let's say you want to read my blog, Artful Artsy Amy. So, in that space you would enter: http://artfulartsyamy.blogspot.com and click "add." Once you do that, everytime I make a new post HERE, you can read my post by logging into your RSS reader account.

How cool is that?!

Well, you may be thinking: "not very." But, consider the implications. Say, you like to read tons of blogs, but you are always forgetting about your favorites, or you find it hard to find the time to sit down and go and visit all of your favorite blogs. By entering in the url of your favorite blogs into the RSS reader you have created your own blog-delivery service. All of your favorite blogs delivering ONLY the NEW postings the second they are updated to your RSS reader. And, once you read the new postings in your RSS reader they automatically disappear! So, no deleting of archived information etc. etc. The reasoning is, you can always go and visit the actual blog if you want to re-read an article etc. etc.

And, the more you use an RSS reader the more addictive it gets. At first I just had all of my blogs lumped together. But, the more I accrued, the more I wanted to create categories. . .So, I did! All RSS readers (to my knowledge) allow you to do this. So, now, when I log in to my RSS reader I can select only certain categories to read at that moment. In this way, I'm able to retrieve the information I want/need in a more timely and more enjoyable manner. For examples, I have a category devoted to home decor and home shopping blogs. Well, I don't always have time/desire to read those. Sometimes, I'll go weeks w/o a reading from them. But, I like to read the new postings from my Art Teacher category ASAP (cause y'all always have great stuff to say). So, I'm able to quickly read what is going on in your classrooms in a really timely way.

I HIGHLY reccomend getting an RSS reader if you don't already have one!

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