RSS Subscriptions In Really Simple Language: The Whats, The Hows, The Whys, The Wherefores, The Whatnots
OK, so it’s time to have full-fledged ABDPBT subscription drive. Look, it’s Tuesday and I’m sure you have nothing else to do [cough]. I don’t want to hear any complaining. Because what I’ve been hearing around the blogosphere lately is a lot of bitching and moaning about how little time everyone has, and how blogs are this big old time suck and wah wah wah. Boo frickidy hoo.
Blogs don’t have to be a time suck. Or, well, they don’t have to be quite so much of a time suck. It occurred to me that perhaps I was making assumptions about my readership that were not accurate–perhaps I assumed that because I knew all about RSS subscriptions that all of you did, too. And I know some of you have been RSSing since before I was even a glint in the blogosphere’s eye, but ever since I switched my feeds from Feedburner to Google, I lost a chunk of you.
So it’s time to let everyone in on the dirty little secret of blogging: there’s an easy way to cut the time you spend checking your favorite blogs in half. Maybe even in quarters. That method? RSS subscription through Google Reader.
Are you still checking your blogs one by one? Chances are that you are–only a small fraction of internet users use RSS. When I first started reading blogs regularly–oh, about 8 months ago–I was checking my list of blogs every day for new entries. Since not all bloggers write every day, this resulted in a bunch of wasted trips around the net. Sure, each one only took a few seconds, but if you add these trips up, you can definitely spend a ton of time looking around for nothing. Finally I realized there was a reason that nearly every blog has a symbol like the one at right on it.
So, what is RSS?
RSS is short for “Really Simple Syndication,” and it is basically just a feed of information that allows you to receive the most recent content from websites in one central location. Each blog has an RSS feed (or two or three) that can be sent to a news reading program like Google Reader almost like an email. When you subscribe to an RSS feed, you are telling that website that you want to be notified of all new information that is posted on that website. As such, the RSS feed does the work for you–it checks each blog site for new material and delivers it to your reader when it’s ready.
The reader program that you use is where all of your feeds are displayed. I prefer Google Reader, myself, but there are many different programs such as Bloglines and Newsgator. The advantage of using Google Reader is that, not only do they always have the most up to date technology and organization programs, they also hook everything up, so if you already have a gmail account, you have a Google Reader account already, even without knowing it!
How do I subscribe? Is this going to be difficult? Please help me: I am cold and frightened.
NO. This will not be difficult at all. All you have to do is look for the little button that I showed above. Sometimes it will be blue, sometimes orange, sometimes there will be words around it that say “subscribe”. All you have to do is find it and click on it. For example, if you use Firefox as your browser (and you should), to subscribe to ABDPBT’s full feed (ABDPBT has four feeds, by the way: 1) the full feed (contains everything), 2) ABDPBT feed, 3) the ABDPBT Personal Finance) feed, 4) the ABDPBT Tech feed; and 5) the ABDPBT Commodity Fetishism feed), you should go up to the address bar of your browser like this:
All you have to do is click on that icon, and it will take you to a screen that looks like this:
Then you can just add it to Google Reader, and bingo! Every time there’s a new post on ABDPBT, it will be delivered to your Google Reader. If you are not using firefox, or you can’t find the button, or you’re otherwise confused, you can paste the blog’s URL into the reader. Here’s what you should look for in Google Reader to do this:
If you are subscribing to ABDPBT, ABDPBT Personal Finance, or The Bathroom Wall, you will note that on the individual posts, there is always a box with a link from which you can subscribe. This box looks like this:
Wait, why am I doing this again?
This will make your blog reading easier and save you time. Now if you’re planning on giving up blogs altogether, that’s one thing–but if you want to be able to read your blogs without wasting a ton of time searching all over the net, then this is how you want to do it. Oh, and by the way, if you’re one of those people who reads the newspaper online, you can use these feed readers for those things too! You just go to the section of whatever newspaper it is that you want to subscribe to, and find the feed for that section, and subscribe! It works for just about everything these days. It is a great way of consolidating everything into one place, so that when you’re ready to do your daily reading, you just have to open Google Reader and choose from the various new posts that are listed in your subscription menu.
Another reason for subscribing that isn’t immediately apparent is that it is great for those times that you stumble upon a cool new website or blog and you don’t want to forget about it. Just add it to your reader, and then you won’t have to remember the address or wonder what the exact name was the next time you try to find it. If you’re like me, you’re always coming across new stuff that interests you, but you can’t keep all the names straight in your head. Google Reader takes the guesswork out of it for you.