Posts Tagged ‘rss’

Thing 13 – RSS

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

What is RSS?

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication.” It’s an XML (Extensible Markup Language)-based format for distributing and aggregating Web content. RSS is a way to get content of your choice, such as news headlines, without having to constantly visit a site to see what’s new.  RSS feeds contain headlines and hyperlinks to longer articles or Web pages.

RSS Icon

RSS Icon, Click for attributuon CC

Even if you’ve never heard of RSS, we’re sure you’ve seen those small, orange icons (like the one pictured here) on Web sites. These icons, when clicked on, will take you to the RSS feed.

What are some advantages of RSS?

RSS is like Tivo for your computer!

  • Your feeds are in one place and there are no ads or pop-ups.
  • You can scan the list of headlines to see what you want to read without wasting a lot of time.
  • Better than using bookmarks because your personal feeds are available from any computer that has Internet access.
  • Content from RSS feeds can be inserted into Web pages.

Learn more about it

You Must Have an RSS Reader in Order to Receive Newsfeeds

In order to receive RSS feeds, you’ll need to set up a news reader. RSS news readers are online applications that use RSS to allow you to receive the information you want.
Some popular news readers are:

Take a look at the Google Reader in Plain English video

Hands on Activities (part 1)

1. Set up a news reader using Google Reader. Because you already have a Google account, you can start using Google Reader right away. You will see a link to Reader at the top left of the page when you are signed in to your Gmail account. If you are not signed in to Google, go ahead and sign in at

2. Add a Google bundle of RSS feeds to your reader.

  • From the Google Reader home page, click on Browse for stuff. You should now be on a page entitled Discover and search for feeds.
  • Google Reader allows you to select feeds that are bundled together on specific topics. For example, let’s say you’d like to receive a bundle of resources on the topic of Web 2.0. Simply click on “View all” next to the heading “Bundles from Google.”
  • Scroll down until you see the bundle entitled “Web-2.0.” Now click on “Subscribe.”
  • Now look at the lower left corner of your reader. You’ll see the feeds automatically listed there.
  • In order to read the feeds, you simply click on the title of the feed and you’ll be able to read the latest postings from that resource.

Adding RSS Feeds to Individual Sites

Keep an eye out for the orange icon or a link to RSS when reading Web sites.  You may have found a particularly good Web site and you want to receive updates to it whenever something new is published. Simply click on the RSS icon or link and you’ll be instructed how to add it to your reader. Sometimes sites will make it easy for you by asking you which reader you want your feed to be sent to.

RSS icon collection

RSS icon collection, CC License. Click for Attribution

Other times you’ll need to copy and paste the URL that appears into your Google Reader (Add a subscription section) account, which we’ll explain below.  Earlier we discussed searching for blogs.  Most blogs are available via RSS. Most blogs make their RSS icon or link fairly visible on the top or the bottom of the first page.

Some Good Places to Find Useful RSS Feeds

There are a few sites that list RSS feeds so that you don’t have to spend a lot of time looking for them:

  • New York Times RSS Feeds The New York Times has dozens of RSS feeds on different sections of the newspaper. For example, you want to receive all the articles on topics related to the Internet, you could choose the Technology category and then click on Internet. Some of the feeds here make it easy for you to choose Google Reader, and others require you to copy and paste the URL into your Google Reader account.
  • U.S. Government RSS Library
    This site has hundreds of RSS feeds categorized by topic, all produced by the U.S. government. Let’s say you’re interested in new resources on HIV/AIDS prevention from the Centers for Disease Control. Simply go to the Health RSS Feeds category and click on the HIV/AIDS Prevention link. This will open a page filled with XML code. What you’ll need to do is copy (Ctrl-C) the hyperlink (in this case, the URL is in the address bar and paste (Ctrl-V) it into the form entitled “Add a Subscription” in Google Reader.
  • Yahoo! Directory RSS Feeds
    You can receive updates to the Yahoo! Directory by subject. You simply click on the RSS icon next to the subject you want and then copy and paste the URL that appears in the address bar to your Google Reader account.

Hands on Activities (part 2)

Activity 1. Bloglines

Create an account. It’s free, and it takes about 15 seconds. You’ll need to confirm your registration, so watch your email. Once you confirm your email, you’ll be brought to a Subscribe page. This is a selection of Bloglines Quick Picks (arranged by subject), and the top fifty or so most popular Bloglines subscription feeds. Take some time here to see what you might be interested in.

That’s it! Once you’ve clicked the Subscribe button, you’ll be whisked away to your own personal Bloglines reader.

Add RSS feeds to some of the blogs in this class, a news source in the US and another country, and a blog in an area related to your academic studies.

Activity 2. Add one or more RSS feeds to your blog

Go to your blog, and click on Admin, and log in.

Click on Appearance on the left in the dashboard, then click on Widgets.

Now look for a widget that will let you add an RSS feed. Add any RSS feed that you have selected or the RSS feed for the blog Ackermann uses for the course.

Hands on Activities (part 3)

Activity 1. Net Vibes

Go to Netvibes, Register for an account.

Using the predefined widgets, add some items to the Netvibes page.

Activity 2. Adding RSS Feeds.

Start a new tab in Netvibes with a title related to your major or your research topic.

On that new tab, add at least five RSS feeds to blogs, news sources, or journals related to the tab title.

3. Add the URL of your Netvibes page and the titles of the items you added on the new tab to the GoogleDoc “Class Assignment June 2012”. You will get an invitation to be an editor of that page.