What is RSS? Learn about RSS Feeds.

I find the term “RSS” (or RSS feed) is quite the buzz now in conversations with business clients wanting more exposure on the Internet.  This is because we’re all talking about using blogs for business.  Every blog has the ability to syndicate articles (written in HTML) via this RSS protocol to directories that aggregate RSS feeds, search engines, and personal RSS readers used by a growing number of people.

So what is RSS?

RSS is a standard for publishing regular updates to web-based content.  “RSS” stands for Really Simple Syndication.

An easy-to-understand, short summary of RSS can be found at:

http://www.feedburner.com/fb/a/aboutrss

Frankly, you don’t need to know much about the details of RSS. What you’re going to want is an RSS reader. You can use an online version with your browser and these are generally free. Very cool. You can download a program that runs on your PC or MAC or Unix box and those are free too. I’ve been working with PLUCK from www.pluck.com and I like it most of the time. I’m not sure it’s what I’ll end up with.

Visit http://www.lights.com/weblogs/rss.html and scan down the list for a reader you like. You can always try out multiple readers to see which one appeals to you more from a daily-use perspective. This site also has a very well-organized list of background resources on blogs, blog hosting, RSS history and so forth. I recommend you spent some time there.

Here’s a tip I wish someone had given me early on when reading RSS feeds. Whether you get your account for a browser-based RSS reader or if you download a reader, always completely DELETE every blasted feed they give you. Yea, really. Take them all out of the reader. You may have to read the HELP. Some readers don’t make it obvious how to delete them.

It’s like when you buy a Dell or HP pc. They throw in a ton of half-wit programs (well, ok, they are getting somewhat better) but you never use them. They take up disk space and you know if you start using them they are going to start nagging you to buy them.

You can subscribe to any RSS feed for free. Take your time.  Just start experimenting with a clean slate and not the 128 precanned NEWS RSS feeds. You’ll feel totally overwhelmed and disillusioned if you try to keep everything. Delete all the feeds and start adding ONLY what you are interested in, one by one.  You can start with mine right here: http://4webresults.elawsystems.wpengine.com/blog/RSS. Just copy and paste this into your RSS reader of choice.

Do these things and you’ll see the power of subcribing to selected information that interests you versus what advertisers think you should know.

Took me a year to do that … so you can start now.

Tom

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