Really Simple Syndication
RSS brings blog posts to you, instead of making you visit each blog individually. It lets you organize the web into a personal magazine. Most all blogs offer RSS or Atom feeds, just look for the RSS icon. (If you’re interested, you can delve into the difference between Atom and RSS, but for practical purposes they operate the same way.)
To break it down
In the video, I flipped through the latest posts from 14 sites. I’m subscribed to 93 sites. Without RSS, I’d be visiting 93 blogs everyday. Or more likely, I’d forget half of them existed and never visit them at all.
While there are a whole host of online RSS readers, my favorite is Google Reader (free, web-based). It’s simple and syncs with everything. If you don’t have a Google account, there’s a video to walk you through it, or you can take the tour.
For reading feeds, it’s much nicer (and more fun) to use a seperate app. It’s not hard—just pick one and it’ll ask you for your Google login info. After that, all your feeds sync automatically.
By far, Flipboard’s my favorite. Apple’s too apparently, for they named it app of the year. While it doesn’t have Read It Later support, it does allow you to send articles to Instapaper, Twitter, Facebook, via email, or star on Google Reader.
Reeder for iPad/iPhone ($4.99)
Reeder supports everything, has everything, will let you organize and keep track of articles in any way you like. It’s clean, easy to read and easy to use. Flipboard’s pretty, but Reeder’s a powerhouse.
For the iPad deprived
NewsRack for Mac ($7.99) | review
Reeder for Mac (free, still in beta) | review
This would be my choice. I wasn’t a fan of the NewsRack iPhone app and considering Reeder’s quality on the iPad, I can’t see it being anything less than stellar.
Gizmodo lists their top picks for iOS and Android, if you’re not a Mac person.
RSS feed urls
Sometimes I’ll find a great blog, usually by an author or reviewer, where the blogger is a newbie who failed to offer a link to their RSS feed. Never fear, depending on where they’re hosted you can usually dig them up.
If they’re on Blogger
Atom 1.0: http://blogname.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default
RSS 2.0: http://blogname.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss
Blog feed: http://example.com/feed/
Blog feed: http://yourname.wordpress.com/feed
Desperate, heartfelt plea
Don’t make me scroll down to the bottom of your site to subscribe to your feed. If I die of “OMG WHERE’S THE !@#$@ RSS LINK!” syndrome, rest assured it’ll be all your fault.
And I WILL haunt you.
Feeds to get you started
So you’ve just signed up for a Google Reader account, now what? How about
stalking following these blogs?
If I wasn’t hooked in to RSS, I’d never found out how to fight evil publishers, learned that anything is possible, delved into award winning movies, or understood the value of a Klondike bar—not to mention the first rule of that thing I can’t talk about, which has effectively saved me from all good society (because, in the end, it’s all about the cookies).