If you’re not familiar with the idea of an RSS reader or aggregator, then this page is for you. If you find a blog (and some other kinds of internet content) that you’d like to read frequently, but don’t want to visit each website individually to read the latest posts, you can use an RSS reader. It’s a single homepage of sorts where you ‘subscribe’ to the blogs and other content you want to follow. Instead of visiting each website individually, it gathers all of the blogs you follow onto one page, like an email inbox. You can read blog entries in the reader, or click through to the blog itself to read the blog entry on its own page. (Some blogs only show the title of the blog entry in an RSS reader, and you are required to click through to the blog in order to read the full post.)
This blog offers you the option of having the blog entries emailed to you as well, but I think most people feel they get enough email already, and don’t want more. That’s why an RSS reader is really helpful.
If you have a Google or Yahoo account, then you can use their RSS readers: Google Reader, Yahoo Pipes. You can also set up RSS feeds in personalized pages such as iGoogle, MyYahoo, MyMSN, and MyAOL. If you have a web-based email address, check to see if the provider offers a personalized homepage with an RSS reader; this can save you the trouble of having yet another login to remember.
If you do not already have an account with one of those providers, you can sign up (the basic account is free), or you can explore other RSS readers. There are some that you download as software onto your computer. I tend to prefer web-based RSS readers, so I can read RSS feeds wherever I am. Other popular web-based RSS readers include Netvibes and Bloglines.
Most blogs – and many news sites – have the RSS icon on their page for your to subscribe to their RSS ‘feeds’. It looks like this: . If you click on that icon when you see it, it will ask you if you want to subscribe to the RSS feed, and which reader you want to use for the subscription. Or, if you are on your RSS reader homepage, there is a place where you can add subscriptions by entering the URL of the blog you want to follow.
Besides following blogs, there are many news sites that offer RSS feeds. Most of them, however, do not offer an RSS feed of all the news – that would involve thousands of individual posts. There are usually specific RSS feeds for certain facets of the news. For example, this page provides a list of feeds available from The New York Times.