RSS explained: like LJ, just bigger

Said | Mar 29 2011

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.

Google Reader

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.

iPad reeders

Flipboard (free)
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

Mac options
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.

On Windows
Popular choices include:
FeedDemon (free)
RSS Bandit (free)

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
Blog feeds:
Atom 1.0: http://blogname.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default
RSS 2.0: http://blogname.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss

Blog feeds:
Atom: http://exampleusername.livejournal.com/data/atom
RSS: http://exampleusername.livejournal.com/data/rss

Community Feeds:
Atom: http://community.livejournal.com/communityname/data/atom
RSS: http://community.livejournal.com/communityname/data/rss

Self-hosted WordPress
Blog feed: http://example.com/feed/

Blog feed: http://yourname.wordpress.com/feed

Even Twitter offers RSS feeds.

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?

Mary Cole: site | feed
Kristin Nelson: site | feed
Janet Reid: site | feed

NK Jemisin: site | feed
John Scalzi: site | feed
Sara Zarr: site | feed

Book bloggers/news
Forever Young Adult: site | feed
Reading in Color: site | feed
YA Highway: site | feed

All kinds of Mischief
Main site: feed
Cynthia: site | feed
Elle: site | feed
Heather: site | feed
Kelly: site | feed

In short

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).


Tessa Elwood

Genre: YA sci-fi. Webdesign: Pop Color. Last seen: jumping the KS/MO border in a black camaro.
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