A quick note: If you already use an RSS reader, feel free to skip this post. Or not — it does contain a link to a great explanation of RSS that you may wish to give to friends rather than trying to explain RSS yourself.

If there are more than a few websites you read daily — be they blogs, news sites, web comics, or what have you — an RSS feed reader can save you a lot of time. (Of course, depending on how you use your time online, you may be wondering why you would want to streamline your use of something you use primarily to waste time at work fill the time when you’re waiting for a program to compile. I will leave that to your judgment. Just remember that I’m not the one suggesting someone might, horror of horrors, use the internet at work to read anything not work-related. Shh.)

If you think I’m going to explain the wonders of RSS, though, you’d be wrong. Well, I’ll give you a one two-sentence summary: It lets you look at just one place to see which of the 100s of sites you care about have updated. You pick the sites, so it really is only ones you care about.

The real purpose of this post, though, is to give you a link to this excellent and simple explanation of what RSS is and what it does. Go read it, while I let my tea cool. Thank you, Back in Skinny Jeans!

How to explain RSS the Oprah way

I personally use NewsGator to read any number of sites, from friends’ personal blogs to general news to science magazines. For a time I used Bloglines, which seems to be the most popular web-based feed reader (perhaps because the name is an easy one to remember), but after reading that it had problems with updating the feeds of certain sites, I checked and found that, sure enough, certain blogs that I had assumed were not being updated were instead not showing up on Bloglines. So far, I’m happy with NewsGator.

May this post help someone understand RSS. Or at least save someone a little time in their daily routine, even if you don’t understand all the technology.