RSS stands for Really Simple syndication. An RSS reader is the inverse process of visiting your favourite bookmarked sites. Rather than spending time searching your favourite websites and blogs for new postings an RSS reader allows you to follow updates and track new posts from one single easily navigable page: You’re reader homepage.
I use Google Reader but there are several other equally powerful options such as Newzcrawler, FeedDemon, OmeaReader, and Bloglines. Most websites/blogs have an RSS button for you to click to follow, but if no RSS button is present Google reader still allows you to follow updates by clicking on the Add Subscription button and pasting the url into the box on the left hand side of the page.
Once subscribed to a website/blog you create an RSS feed. The name of feed will appear in the left hand plane, under the heading Subscriptions. A number will appear next to the subscriptions which indicates the number of unread items associated with that feed. Clicking on a feed will open a list of posts, in chronological order, in the main window. When a feed is selected for viewing it may view it in one of two ways. Expanded view allows for the reader to see the headline and the first few sentences of the post, whereas List view allows the reader to only view the headline. These options are located in the top right hand corner of the main window.
One of the most exciting options in Google Reader is the ability to share feeds with other people. This is especially useful when building Professional Learning Networks (PLN’s). To share an item, click the Share or Share with note button underneath an item. These items will appear in Your shared items. You can also click the Email button to send individual items directly to your friends. You have the option to automatically share your shared items with a list of friends or with your Gmail chat contacts. Click the Sharing settings link to customize who can see your shared items and whose shared items you’d like to see.
It’s also possible to follow someone else’s Google Reader feeds as along as they first share their feeds publically. If they’re choosing to share publicly, you can just search for their name using Reader’s People Search. To search for someone, click the Browse for stuff in your left hand sidebar. Next, click the Search tab. Finally, type in the name of the person you’re searching for under the heading Find people to follow. You can also search for a topic or interest. People Search is also available in your sharing settings.
Instead of wasting valuable time searching the Internet for resources, let Google Reader do the work for you. To sign up for Google Reader click the highlighted link. Happy RSSing!