FYI: RSS

Have you heard about RSS? Are you not quite sure what it means or what it can do for you? RSS stands for Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication. Instead of trying to keep up with all the websites you enjoy, or need to read, RSS will push the latest information to you. It's news on demand based on your interests and needs.

How to Get Started with RSS

First you will need a way to read the RSS feeds from the different news outlets. There are two ways to obtain an RSS reader - it can be a program you download to your computer or it can be a web based application. The advantage of a web based RSS reader is that you will be able to access your content from any computer. Some services are beginning to offer mobile RSS delivery as well so that you could receive updates on your PDA or cell phone.

Web Based RSS Readers

  • Google Reader - Google Reader is an online RSS feed reader with organizing features such as folders and tagging.
  • Bloglines - Bloglines is an online RSS feed reader with organizing features such as folders.
  • iGoogle - iGoogle is a personalized start page that allows you to track RSS feeds and add other modules/gadgets/widgets such as clocks, calendars, etc.
  • My Yahoo! - My Yahoo! is a personalized start page that a personalized start page that allows you to track RSS feeds and add other modulesgadgets/widgets such as clocks, calendars, etc.
  • Netvibes - Netvibes is a personalized start page that allows you to track RSS feeds and add other modules/gadgets/widgets such as clocks, calendars, etc.
  • Pageflakes - Pageflakes is a personalized start page that allows you to track RSS feeds and add other modules/gadgets/widgets (called Flakes in Pageflakes) such as clocks, calendars, etc.
  • Newsgator - For personal or small business use they have a free version that allows for organization of RSS feeds. For a small upgrade fee users can subscribe to the mobile service which also allows RSS feeds to be sent to a mobile device.

Software Based RSS Readers

Looking for RSS content

If there is a website that you visit regularly for news and information, check to see if they have added the RSS feature to their site. Look for these buttons:

XML OR RSS . These buttons let you know that the site does offer RSS feeds for its content. Most websites that offer an RSS option will include directions on how to add the RSS feed to your reader. The reader you choose should provide directions on how to add content as well.

Adding RSS content

When you find content that you want to add to your reader you will need to complete a few simple steps to add the website's link so that your reader will alert you when new content is available.

If you are using Yahoo!, Bloglines, Pluck or Newsgator, you may see those logos displayed on sites. If that is the case and you see the icon for your RSS reader on a website you can click on the readers logo to add the content. Bloglines also offers a way to watch pages or blogs that do not have RSS feeds. You can add a "Sub with Bloglines" to the Favorites in your browser. When you are at a site that you want to track, you can click on the "Sub with Bloglines" favorite and it will be added to your list of feeds in the Blogline account.

For example, CNN.com has a list of RSS feeds on the site. Since CNN has the Yahoo button, you can right click on that button and will be launched into My Yahoo! to confirm that you want that content added to your Yahoo! content.

If you are not using Yahoo!, you will right click on the XML symbol and select "Copy Shortcut". Then paste this shortcut into your RSS reader. The RSS reader you use will have directions on how to add content by URL. During this step if you accidentally left click on the XML symbol and see HTML coding do not panic. From the screen with the XML code, you can also right click on the URL address and select "Copy". You will then paste that URL into the area of your RSS reader that allows you to add RSS content. For example, from My Yahoo you would select "Add Content" on the homepage, then at the next page, where you can also search for content, there is a link for "Add RSS by URL". The "Add RSS by URL" opens another window with a box where the URL can be pasted and the content will be added to My Yahoo. It may seem that it is a lot of steps but it is worth it. Once the RSS reader is populated with your favorite sites, the hard work is behind you and you will have one place to check for updated content.

Do not be intimidated if this seems complicated. Using RSS is the most efficient way to track new content on the web and stay current with the sites you like the most. As RSS becomes more widely offered on sites, more RSS readers will most likely offer one-step buttons for adding content. (While reviewing sites for this FYI, the one with the most comprehensive button add list was Smartmoney.com). Enjoy more control over the information on the internet as you begin to use RSS.

RSS feeds from the American Bar Association

Other RSS Feeds for Lawyers

Search Engines for finding RSS Feeds

Sources of Further Information about RSS for Lawyers

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