If you don’t know what an RSS feed is, then this post is for you. RSS is an abbreviation for Really Simple Syndication. It is a useful way for internet users to compile loads of information all in one place.
The advantage of using RSS feeds is that they are updated in real time so you know when a site you regularly visit is updated with new content. If you find yourself visiting the same sites over and over again, you may want to add those sites to your RSS aggregator. An RSS aggregator is an online tool that keeps track of all of the websites that you want to read.
This is how I explained it to my mom, “An RSS feed aggregator is kind of like an email inbox for your favorite websites. When a website you’d like to follow is updated, you receive a notice in your ‘inbox.’”
So how do you go about tracking your favorite sites via RSS feeds? Well, step one is to choose an RSS feed reader. Here are some options:
Google Reader: This is a web based aggregator that is very popular and easy to use. You need a Google user account to access the service, but it’s free. Once you’ve set up your account and added your favorite feeds, you can group your feeds by categories.
Ensembli: This is a newer aggregator that claims to work with you and over time learns what interests you. From their site:
The more you read, discard, or even ignore the stories Ensembli finds, the more it’ll be able to locate the stories that you’ll really like. Just to be extra clever, as your tastes change, Ensembli will be able to automagically keep up with you!
After you have chosen your aggregator, you can start adding your favorite sites that you’d like to track. You can easily do this by clicking on a site’s feed button. The RSS feed icon is like the orange image in the top of this post. Simply click on a site’s RSS icon and you will then see the feed link in your browser’s address bar. You can then add that link to your aggregator.
Once your aggregator is set up, don’t forget to check it to read all your updates. Just be sure to add Unclutterer’s feed to your list. Or, if you’ve been reading Unclutterer for more than a year, check out our RSS feed without the A Year Ago posts. When you become a savvy RSS feed reader, you might feel comfortable creating customized feeds using Yahoo! Pipes.