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TIME Magazine : Let RSS go fetch content for you – great intro to RSS

TIME Europe Magazine has an excellent story about the power of RSS – Really Simple Syndication – to retrieve and deliver content of your choosing.

The problem perceived by those skeptical of blogs and identified by the article is that “…[T]he blogosphere creates way too much material for any human being to comfortably digest. Plus, there’s no way of knowing when your favorite sites are updated. Who has time to keep visiting these sites in the hope of finding a fresh item?”

TIME provides the answer those of us on the blogosphere can already appreciate:

..[I]t’s called Real Simple Syndication, or RSS — you’ve probably seen the little orange rectangles on your favorite sites. You start by downloading free software called a newsreader. For PC users, we recommend Bloglines, NewsGator or You , which plug into Microsoft Outlook.

If you’re using Mac OS X, try NetNewsWire Lite. Each of these has a pay version, generally about $30, with more features, but beginners won’t need them.

Then head over to your favorite websites and subscribe to their RSS feeds by clicking on any button that says RSS or XML.

The result:

Depending on the source, RSS will deliver the entire text of the story to your newsreader, or just the first paragraph or just the headline. In any case, clicking on a headline will take you straight to the full story via your Web browser. Almost every major newspaper and news website has an RSS feed these days. (The Los Angeles Times is probably one of the most significant exceptions, and that’s because it’s working on advertising-driven newsreader software.)

RSS allows you to play news editor and zero in on the information you really need, even as you expand the number of sites you sample. You can subscribe to just the parts of the Seattle Times, for example, that cover biotech and the Mariners baseball team.

And as the TIME journalist reports:

RSS is so easy to use, you might be surprised by how much more productive you become. Before I installed RSS, I was perusing some 20 websites a day. Now the figure is more like 70 — yet the information is so targeted, I’m getting more of what I really want. Instead of inefficiently searching, I never have to worry if I’m wasting my time. Problem solved, simply.

The day is soon coming when we’ll sit back and laugh at the day when we browsed from site to site for content. RSS will steam to us what we want, from who we want it and when we want it. Gee, I think I heard Bill Gates say that over a year ago.

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