RSS. Know it. Love it.
It must have been, oh… about a year and a half ago when the crafts blogging world exploded with joy over our collective discovery of Bloglines. One blogger's post about it led to ten more, and then ten more, and soon everybody was happily reading all their favourite blogs from one, handy place. There's been little discussion of RSS on crafts blogs recently, though, and I wonder if newer bloggers and blog readers know about this stuff? There's so much good stuff to read, I figured I'd bring it up again just in case. If you're already on the RSS thing, I'll distract you with… um… Look! A flying monkey! Ok. So.
RSS is an acronym for Really Simple Syndication. Almost all blogs, and many other types of web sites like newspapers, magazines, and Flickr, publish RSS feeds that allow readers to subscribe to all or some of their content through a program called an RSS reader (aka “aggregator”). This is a web-based or on-your-PC program that collects the feeds and presents the content to you all in one place. So you don't have to keep a list of blogs to check every day to see if there's new content – the RSS reader will show you when a site has been updated.
When you're on a site you want to subscribe to, look for the orange icon to find the RSS feed's URL. Some blogs even use handy links specific to the reader (like Bloglines, or myYahoo) – if you have an account with one of them, all you need to do is click the link to subscribe. Or you can just copy the link for the feed (which might end in something like /index.xml or /index.rdf) and enter it into your aggregator. For example, I've put links like these in the left-hand sidebar of this blog. Go ahead and subscribe if you haven't already. I dare you.
In addition to Bloglines, both Yahoo and Google offer RSS aggregators for free, and Firefox allows you to add “live bookmarks” to keep on top of sites with feeds. Anyone have a good recommendation for a client-side RSS reader? Or for a web-based reader I haven't mentioned?
Update: Alison shared an awesome tutorial on using Bloglines (scroll down for the PDF on RSS Bloglines handout). It's geared toward librarians, so after you follow the first two steps, skip to the second page. Thanks, Alison! Also, be sure to read the comments for a link to a Firefox extension RSS reader (thanks Pfirsch!), and for more recommendations.
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