The following is a description of RSS provided by Karl Fisch, the technology coordinator at our sister school, Arapahoe High School.
It depends on who you ask what RSS stands for, but we’ll use Really Simple Syndication. You can read more about RSS if you would like to, but the basic idea is that many websites are RSS enabled - you can “subscribe” to a web page “feed” and be notified anytime that page changes. You manage and read your RSS feeds through an “RSS Aggregator”. This allows you to keep track of any updates to your favorite websites without having to actually visit those websites. RSS also has the advantage of not being “spammable” – you manage your subscriptions and decide what you want to read. Most major news sources now offer RSS feeds, as well as other websites and blogs. Anywhere you see an orange XML button , the RSS icon button or words like RSS Feed, Site Feed, or Atom Feed – indicates a page you can subscribe to.
To get started, you need an RSS Aggregator. There are three main types of RSS Aggregators: web browsers, online aggregators, and client aggregators. (Read more about aggregators.) The following are some suggestions - they are all free (although Safari is only "free" with Mac OS X).
The latest versions of Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari all have RSS built into them.
There are a variety of web-based aggregators. The advantage of web-based aggregators is that you can manage and read your feeds from multiple computers without having to worry about them being out of synch. There are many web-based choices, but Bloglines and Google Reader are two of the more popular ones.
You can also install an aggregator on your computer. The advantage of these aggregators is they sometimes have more features than online aggregators. The disadvantage is that you are tied to managing your RSS feeds from one computer (or risk having them be out of synch). There are many client aggregators, but Thunderbird (from the makers of Firefox) is a highly recommended one. In addition, the latest version of Microsoft Outlook has RSS built in.
If you are just getting started with RSS, we would recommend trying Bloglines or Google Reader. Once you get more experience with RSS, then you can better evaluate your choices.
Once you have your aggregator, start subscribing to feeds – each aggregator has its own method you need to figure out, but it’s usually pretty simple. Find the site feed URL by clicking on that orange XML button, or the words RSS Feed, Site Feed, or Atom Feed. That will take you to a page that may or may not look like something to you, but all you care about is grabbing the URL and adding it to your feed list in your aggregator. For example, the LHS Daily Announcements blog is located at http://lhsdailyannouncements.blogspot.com/. If you go there, you can view it like a normal web page. But if you then click on the button that says RSS Site Feed, it takes you to this URL - http://feeds2.feedburner.com/LhsDailyAnnouncements This page is not as readable, but that’s okay – because you’ll never actually see it. You just use the http://feeds2.feedburner.com/LhsDailyAnnouncements URL to subscribe to the feed in your aggregator – and your aggregator delivers a readable version to you.
RSS is an extremely useful and exciting technology – we encourage you to explore it further. Everywhere you see on this site indicates an "article" you can subscribe to - simply click on the button to get the URL of the feed, and add it to your aggregator. Every time that article changes, you'll get notified. (Note that this is a little different than most sites, where you subscribe to pages, not articles.)