Monday, December 10, 2007

How to RSS like a Rockstar... (Part 1)

Okay here's the scenario: You surf the net, you find a mind-blowing site, and you swear that you'll come back to it, just as soon as you finish cooking dinner.

Ok, fast forward through dinner and you get back to the computer, scramble to return to that mind-blowing site,
but alas---you can't seem to find it.

It's not in your search history
It's not in your cookies
You didn't email it to yourself as a reminder.
It won't turn up, not even when you hit the back button a-bajillion times.

Cue "hopeless sigh"... now.

Well, I don't feel sorry for you. It's your fault you haven't been keeping up with web technology. There are ways to avoid such pointless blunders

And it's called: RSS!

RSS? Lucy, what's RSS?

Hold on to your britches my tech-oblivious friend. I'm getting to that part now...

All the content from your favorite websites, podcasts, and blogs is sometimes hard to keep up with. You want to know about the latest updates or every new post. And sometimes that bookmark bar gets filled up and then it's rendered useless, not being able to distinguish the really awesome from the truly badass!

You don't want to miss out on all that really, really, thirst-quenching content. Well, the webtechs, webgeeks, and webnerds have devised a way to make the web come to you, rather than you going to the web--it's automatic! The Automatic Automatic!! (I know, bad pun!)

Why/How is RSS Automatic?
Because it saves you time from entering each site into the address bar, or scanning through your search history. Think of RSS as the bread crumbs that Hansel and Gretel should've used to find their way home! Instead of having to hunt your way through your search history and your cookies, nor do you need to join each site’s email newsletter! (But don't confuse email newsletters (autoresponders) with an RSS feed--two separate things.) For that favorite website (or blog) you want to keep track of, you just simply have that website added to a reader.

Reader? What's a reader!?!?

I'm getting to that, Kemo sabe.

Well, much like a CD needs a CD player, a mp3 needs and mp3 player, a DVD needs a DVD player. Well, an RSS feed needs an RSS feed reader--also known as an "aggregator."
You can only receive "your RSS feed" through a "reader." Get it? Cool. Moving on...

Okay, what is this symbol?

For those of you who have been living under a rock during the booming internet age, this symbol is the universal symbol for, RSS. Pretty difficult, eh?

You might see it written as:
- RSS feed
- RSS icon
- RSS symbol
- RSS button

What does RSS mean?

Get ready! Brace yourself for some complicated techno-jargon! (Are you ready, old folks?)

Really Simple Syndication - Awwww, man! I had ya, didn't I?
Actually, it stands for Rich Site Summary. And also as, "RDF Site Summary". My guess is that it is somehow related to Rich Text Documents.

Either way, it really is "Really Simple Syndication." Why? Because it's an easy way to have content that appears on your favorite websites or blogs delivered right to your internet door, like a paperboy delivers your favorite morning newspaper.

Now dear reader, it's time for me to ask you a question: How did you get the paperboy to do that?

That's right! You signed up for a subscription. And that's no different here, with RSS. Only this time instead of paying $0.15 a week/copy, with a Quest subscription---you pay nothing! Yeah! That's right! I said it! It's free! Let me repeat--IT'S FREE! Just look for the word "subscribe" or "the RSS icon" on this blog or any other blog/website.

Some sites you might notice offer a full feed while others offer a partial feed (half feed). That's up to the site owner. The only difference is that with a partial feed you'll only get a portion of update and in order to get the rest of the update you'll have to venture back to the site directly.

Stay in the loop!
So you can get fresh new content, delivered to you via your favorite delivery method: a "reader" or "email". Here at Quest, you can get an email subscription or an RSS subscription. And it's pretty straight-forward to understand. In an EMAIL Subscription, you can have the update delivered to your chosen email. (Just remember to confirm the subscription.)

My preferred method is via a reader. Why? I like to have my email free for other things. I like to be able to choose to visit my favorite sites as I please and not have it clutter up my junk box. Now according to my stats, I have a number of people signed up via email. And again, that's their choice. What will be yours? (Choose wisely--young skywalker!)

Lucy, you haven't explained what and how to use a reader!!
Ugh! Must I do everything? This post is getting pretty long...
All you have to do is, next time your come across the RSS symbol or the words "subscribe to this feed" or "subscribe via RSS," just click on it.

You'll usually be given a choice of what reader to use. There are MANY! So this part can get confusing. But I'll leave that for the next post on RSS feeds. We'll specifically go over "How to use an RSS reader."

Whew! I'm tired. Aren't you? Good. Now, you're well on your way to becoming an RSS Rockstar.

But first, here's your homework: SIGN-UP to Quest For Comedic Stardom's subscription. And BONUS points go to those who use their RSS reader (before the next lesson).

*+*+*+* If you've read this post and followed the directions, then you've must've learned something new about the internet. Use that knowledge and get FREE UPDATES BY EMAIL or RSS.

Did you enjoy this post? Buy me a warm cup of joe.

9 comments: said...

Outstanding article! I very much enjoy your writing style. You have a gift of making this mundane RSS stuff accessible to the masses. Great job!

I've given this a Stumble so hopefully many others can see this.

BellaVida said...

Very entertaining and informative. You know I like ur stylo.

Thanks for coming through. I'll be posting a link to this article from my blog as I'm sure that there are lots of peeps wondering about that magical orange button.

Peace & Love

karooch (from Scraps of Mind) said...

Love the article Lucy. I have trouble getting my audience to sign up for RSS even though I wrote a 'dummies guide' article to explain what it's all about. I'll be interested to hear how this article goes as an educational tool.

Jennifer said...

You need to be known as the comedic techie! Informative post with a flair of geekness.

Have you tried google reader?! That is where I signed up to read some of the RSS feeds I have but I overloaded! I need to delete some!

Pablothehat said...

Hi Lucy...Liked your article..I have put a link on my site to it..
Stuff google's rubbish..use Netvibes..lot better..ciao

Lucy said...

Sol Lederman - Thanks for the Kudos! Yeah, I wish my teachers had the mastered the technique of changing the mundane to the "easily digestible." (It think I would have learned more.) I take the lead from Mary Poppins and rename it my "spoonful of sugar" philosophy.

Thanks for the stumble.

Bellavida - No worries, Madame. I aim to please. Glad I could fulfill your request adequately.

And yes, that orange button can be magical.

Karooch - It seems to be going well. The day I posted it my subscriptions were at 99 and then today it seems to be up, to 115 (my organic high). So hopefully it is taking effect.

Jennifer - Flair of geekiness? Or flair of nerdiness?

Google reader, yes of course. But apparently, Pablo begs to differ.

Pablothehat - Clearly, you're a reader afficianado. Or perhaps a reader snob? Man, you Brits and your reader aristocracy. We Americans will never be able to please you. (lol)

Thanks for the nod and the link love. Come back for more!

Jameson Penn / djconnor said...

Compliments to the chef! I'm going to scratch my currently weak explanation of RSS for yours on my site.

Nicely done.

Anonymous said...

I am so untechnical, and have only been reading and writing blogs for a month, but I say this article is amazing and having a reader to cull your favorite blogs is certainly the way to go. I hope you don't mind, I made this post a "page" on my blog.

Thank you!

Roice said...

Very informative. Thank you!