RSS Feeds and Feed Readers

When I was in college in the early 1960’s (yes, Virginia, I am that old!), the Evelyn Wood speed reading course was a popular fad. Until I looked for a link about it just now, I didn’t even know the Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics company was still in existence. This course has been mocked, such as in this quote from Woody Allen (“I took a speed reading course and read ‘War and Peace’ in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.”), but it works and has helped a lot of people learn to increase their reading speed and their comprehension.

Given the amount of information available on the Internet at the click of a mouse, reading slowly coupled with the habits that arise because of the way web browsing works leads to a failure to get the maximum benefit from the resources that this remarkable technology provides. So many web pages, so little time!

So if you find yourself making a daily visit to a lot of different websites to get your news each day, it may be time for you to think about experimenting with using an RSS News Reader. Please bear with me as I explain a couple of concepts — RSS and RSS readers.

The WebReference site gives the following answer to the question What is RSS?: “Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is a lightweight XML format designed for sharing headlines and other Web content. Think of it as a distributable ‘What’s New’ for your site. Originated by UserLand in 1997 and subsequently used by Netscape to fill channels for Netcenter, RSS has evolved into a popular means of sharing content between sites (including the BBC, CNET, CNN, Disney, Forbes, Motley Fool, Wired, Red Herring, Salon, Slashdot, ZDNet, and more). RSS solves myriad problems webmasters commonly face, such as increasing traffic, and gathering and distributing news. RSS can also be the basis for additional content distribution services.”

Before your eyes glaze over in reading that somewhat technical explanation, let me say that RSS is nothing more than a way for web sites to distribute their content to your desktop without your having to visit the sites you find of interest. You don’t need to know how they do it to benefit from having the results show up on your computer screen for you to examine. But you do need an application called an RSS Feed Reader to collect and display the information that you choose to have sent to you each day. See this description of FeedDemon for more on the reader that I’ve chosen to use and recommend to you.

I’ve run out of time to complete this discussion right now, but please notice over to the right the link that says Site Feed. That is the link to the RSS feed from this site. You could choose to add this site to FeedDemon to have new entries show up on your computer everytime a new entry is made here.

You can try FeedDemon for 20 days without any cost before deciding whether you would like to purchase it ($29.95) if you find it as valuable as I have. It took me only about 5 hours of experimenting with it yesterday before I realized that it was well worth the money.

Check it out. I think you’ll be glad you did.


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