What the @#$% is RSS & where do I get a newsreader?

This afternoon I'm giving a presentation to several fellow staff members about what else --- RSS & Blogging. :)

In the course of getting this presentation together, I had tinkered with the thought of creating a handout for them, but then realized that if they were truly going to experience and start exploring these new communication, information and social software tools, then it would be more beneficial to pull all my references together for them in this blog.

What is RSS? see Wikipedia: RSS

What does it look like?

RSS is its rough form is not so easy to read since it uses an XML markup language to format the information in the news feed. See example from

However when you subscribe to an RSS feed through a newsreader or news aggregator, the value of RSS is plain to see for it allows you to pull information from a variety of sources into one place. Here's a link to my public Bloglines account . Bloglines is just one of several free web-based news aggregators available (Note: Check out the 3rd link under Tech News to see how the RSS feed from above is viewed)

How do I know if a site provides an RSS, XML or Atom feed?

Easy - just look for links or buttons that tell you. They may look like this---> or this ---> or simply say in plain text "Syndicate this site", "RSS Feed" etc.

Fortunately, there is now a standard feed icon that sites (and browsers) are beginning to adopt.
How do a I subscribe?

  1. In order to receive RSS feeds, you must have a news aggregator or newsreader. The first step in subscribing to a RSS feed is to select a newsreader service. Newsreaders tools can either be downloaded or installed on computers or you can use one of several free internet services (such as My Yahoo, NewsGator or Bloglines). There are a number of free aggregators to choose from online, many of them free, so with a little bit of searching, you should be able to find an interface that appeals to you.

  2. Once you've setup your newsreader account, the next step is to subscribe to some news feeds. When you come across a website you would like to add to your aggregator, you can do so in one of two ways. Some sites that offer an RSS feed may have an “RSS” or “XML” button for specific news reader (examples: ) on their homepage that you can click on that will instantly add that feed to your aggregator. But if not, then subscribing is an easy as opening up the newsfeed by clicking on it, selecting the URL and adding to your newsreader).

Why not set up a newsreader for yourself?

Popular News Aggregators (Web-based & free):
My Yahoo
List of other Free Online News Readers

News Feed Finders:

Most online news aggregators include some type of news feed finder to help you locate popular RSS feeds, but you can also use these tools:
News Feed Finder
Feedstar FeedFinder
News is Free sources

KebberFegg (keyword-based RSS generator)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Loved the presentation, Helene. My brain has been working overtime ever since!