Thursday, May 01, 2008

Today is… Labour Day, of course, but also RSS Awareness Day

Returning to blogging after a year on Labour Day is a good sign, and I hope I can sustain blogging this time – without much labour. :-) For those of you unfamiliar with ‘RSS’, it does not stand for Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh but ‘Really Simple Syndication’.

What does RSS ? What does it do?

Here’s a quote from

“RSS is a format used to deliver information from websites and pages that get updated regularly. An RSS document (which is called feed) contains either a summary or the full content from a website.

The main benefit of RSS is that it enables people to stay connected with their favorite websites without having to visit them. Once you subscribe to a particular RSS feed, you will automatically receive updates from the website that publishes the feed, whenever they release new content.”

If you like to visit several web sites or blogs regularly, RSS can be a blessing. You don’t need to remember which websites to check, you’ll know automatically which ones are updated, you can read them at your leisure and you can even mark them for reading again later. You can skip parts of a post until you get to the next interesting bit. My RSS reader even shows videos and photos within each item. It’s like being on the web site without any extra mouse clicks or typing in the URL in your browser.

And if you are afraid you will miss out on others comments on a blog post, one can even subscribe to the feed for comments.

My feed reader

If you use Google Reader to subscribe to your favourite feeds, there’s more: you can login to Google Reader from any PC or mobile (of course, you need a Google/Gmail account, a browser and internet access), and you can share your favourites with friends and see what they are sharing with you. If any of your friends on Google Talk are using Reader and sharing items, they'll show up in the Google Reader sidebar under Friends' shared items.

I use Google Reader daily though I first started using Blog Lines, another popular RSS reader. I still have a Blog Lines account but I have switched to Google Reader only because with Google Reader I don’t need to login to yet another web site – when I am logged into my Gmail, I can open Google Reader with just click.

One gripe though – some sites and blogs only publish their subject/headline or the first few lines of the post. So if I feel I need to read the entire post, I need to click on the post in my reader to visit the site – and it may not turn out to be worth the effort.

To learn more about RSS feeds and how to subscribe, check out For more about feeds and to ‘burn’ (publish) the feed for your own web site or blog, look at FeedBurner Help Center’s Feed 101 page.