What’s a Google Reader?

So, a few months ago a friend of mine was kind enough to tutor me on this “new technology” that I could use online.  The “new technology” was a website called iGoogle.  Maybe you’ve heard of it….but before then, I hadn’t. For the past year or two I had ignored the little orange RSS Feeds button on the far right hand corner of oh so many websites. And I always thought to myself If I do press this button then where does it go? So just as my friend was about to tutor me on iGoogle I ask her “What the heck is an RSS Feed?”

The term RSS can stand for Really Simple Syndication for Rich Site Summary. The feed itself is simply the collection of frequently update entries onto websites, blogs, news headlines, and so on. The text is summarized or set up as headlines and fed from the websites into RSS Readers that are available for free online, on a desktop, or through a mobile device.  When you click at that orange button, you are subscribing to updates offered on that particular website and you can do this instead of subscribing to email newsletters and lists.

So where do the RSS Feeds go? Well, I was first introduced to iGoogle and Google Reader to use, but there’s more.  Mac users can download NetNewsWire for free. My Yahoo allows you to customize your news page to the articles you choose by sending it RSS feed subscriptions.  Most new laptops and desktops running a Microsoft operating system have a feed reader already on it by default. These services essentially collect all your subscriptions so that you can see all the news, updates, events, and headlines on one main page.

From a business perspective, using services like the ones mentioned above can save you a serious amount of time and effort when web surfing. You can streamline any catching up you want to do on current events, all while customizing your page to send you feeds specific to your industry.  Here’s a few tips:

  • If the RSS reader requires you to login with an email address, you can often use your current address and there’s no need to establish a new email just for the service.
  • If you’re using services like Google Reader or My Yahoo, you can save it to your Internet Options as your new default homepage.
  • When you’re subscribing to a webpage, you can often specify the updates you’re most interested in getting feeds on.  For example, by doing a subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, you can get updates on your specific county rather than all of metro-Atlanta.

So now you know.  And if you’re having any trouble getting that feed set up, you can contact us and we’ll walk you through the process.