Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Use RSS feed to be first and informed

Let's say you have a favorite artist (or ten) who's website or blog you like to visit. But who has time every day to jump to their artist's site to check if any new work has been posted. Well now RSS feeds can put you in control. Before I get to the why you should care, let's take a moment to talk about the what question first. What on earth is RSS? (Also known as Subscribe To: Posts (Atom) at the bottom of this page. It's the same thing to you and I.)

What are RSS feeds? Perhaps you've seen text or image buttons on various websites inviting you to "subscribe via RSS." Well, what does that mean exactly? What is RSS, what are RSS feeds, and how do you get them to work for you?

What is RSS? Short for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary, this handy service is revolutionizing the way we search for content. There's nothing complicated about RSS; just think of it as a way that websites come to you, the reader, with content, instead of you having to check up on them. Every time content is updated by your chosen website, a "feed" is activated, and then you can view these "feeds" (it's just a fancy way of saying content) in a feed reader. It's kind of like subscribing to a newspaper. Website feeds get delivered to you in your RSS reader, and you get to read them (We'll get to feed readers in just a minute!).

RSS feeds benefit artists like me too, since I can get my new work and new blogs to subscribers, like you, fast, by submitting feeds to various RSS directories (such as Google Reader).

What does this mean for you? Sure, that sounds interesting, but why is it for me?

Simply put, it means that you are in control and informed about any new artwork that's loaded. Also, if you RSS subscribe to my blog (musings) you will know as soon as I put up an new post of my ramblings. When I post it, you'll know it. Simple as that. OK, says you, I'm an artformation junkie and that sounds like it's for me. What do I do next? Luckily that's simple too. Step on is to Let's talk about RSS readers.

What Are RSS Readers? What are RSS readers and do I need one?

Basically, RSS readers are the programs used to view your RSS feed subscriptions. In other words, it's a way to clump all your RSS feeds from various websites, like all your favorite artists, into one handy dandy little interface. For example, the web browser I use is Firefox and when I subscribe to a RSS feed, it automatically shows up in my bookmark menu. Most people however, use another browser, so to make this really simple I'll use Google reader as an example, though there are many readers available. I like Google Reader, because there is nothing to download and best of all, it's FREE!

To use Google Reader, you'll need a Google account. Once you've signed in, you can access all the other nifty Google services such as Froogle, GMail. Here is a quick and easy link you can use to sign up at Google to begin using your Google Reader.
Google Account sign up.

Once you have your account, you can begin using your Reader to access all those websites that have feeds which sound interesting to you. By the way, RSS feeds are great for your favorite news sites. Now you can be the one to announce to the rest of the office that Paris was arrested again, or that there's a rumor that Britney was seen coming out of Chuck E Cheese in Boca Raton. Imagine the possiblilities! While you're at it, don't forget to add your favorite artist's sites.

So if you're interested, take a moment to subscribe to my feed by clicking the Subscribe to: Posts (Atom) link at the bottom of this page and you won't miss another post.

...what do you mean Britney's lawyers are on the phone? I didn't start that rumor.

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