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Making the Most of Web 2.0: General Research Guide: RSS Feeds and Readers

Web 2.0 delivers credible, current, and exciting information. Learn how to put Web 2.0 resources to work for you.

All About RSS

All About RSS

RSS symbol RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, and RSS files are text files with special XML codes that a blog or news site sends to a feed reader with every fresh update. RSS feeds usually consist of headlines or other brief information such as stock quotes or weather reports. Nearly all news sites and most blogs offer them. You can download an RSS reader to your personal computer or copy RSS reader code on to personal web pages. You can also use RSS and similar technologies to send headlines from your favorite news sources or blogs into Facebook.

While professional journalists and journalism students often like to subscribe to twenty or thirty RSS feeds, this should not deter ordinary users from enjoying a more modest number of feeds. Getting headlines from your favorite trusted news source or learning when your favorite special interest blog receives an update is useful and fun. Note: A small blog roll of prominently placed links to favorite news sites and blogs can be a workable alternative to RSS.

To learn more about RSS feeds, read this article from Lifewire (formerly About.com) or for a more technical approach, start with ZDNet's definition.

RSS Feeds with Google Reader

RSS Feeds with The Old Reader

Thanks to the The Old Reader, you can still enjoy RSS feeds.

If you are unfamiliar with RSS feeds, please read All About RSS. Though you may not think you want to bathe in a constant feed of news, RSS feeds can come in handy. They are also a great way to gather articles on a favorite topic and/or collect possible articles to give you ideas for future projects.

A nice list of RSS feeds at newscientist.co.uk

To add a feed to a reader, search for the name of the publicaton and RSS with any search engine. For feeds from New Scientist search for New Scientist RSS Open one of the pages that the search engine returns and then look for links to the feeds. Select a feed link, right click and Copy Link Location to get the RSS feed's URL.

Alternatively, The Old Reader lets you search by publication name instead of pasting in the URL.

Next, open The Old Reader, and click the + sign below the logo. Put your feed's publication or URL in the box and click the bright, red cross to search.

The feed search/insert box on the Old Reader


If you paste in a URL and it is correct, you should see the feed show up on the right. If you paste in a list, you will get a list of RSS feeds from that publication or from publications with similar names. Subscribe to the feed(s) you want by selecting their white Subscribe buttons.

Take your choice at The Old Reader