Monday, March 21, 2005

What is a feed reader?

An RSS feed reader is a program you can use to stay up to date on all your favorite online news sources. By subscribing to the feeds of a page that supports RSS (like this one) you can simply log in to your feed reader inbox and it will automatically check all the sites you've subscribed to for new articles. It will then display all the new articles in one place.

This means that you don't have to remember your favorite web site addresses, waste time going to sites that haven't been updated, or even load all the different pages you want to read. You just log in to one account and everything new is delivered automatically. It increases the information you have access to, while decreasing the time it takes to get it.

If you have an account with Yahoo or MSN, then your MyYahoo or MyMSN page can read feeds for you. Other popular free web-based RSS readers include Bloglines and Newsgator. Pages that don't have one-click subscription buttons like this one may still have orange RSS or XML buttons. The links to those buttons can be copied and pasted into your feed reader to subscribe.

Once you get the hang of reading RSS feeds, you will never want to go back to web surfing manually. Many different types of sites have RSS feeds, including major media outlets and small blogs. Each Yahoo News search results page even has its own unique RSS feed, so your feed reader will know whenever there are new search results available.

A related technology that you can use to save all the articles you find online is called social bookmarking. Check out and for examples. For more information about new web tools for research check out Marshall's blog. He helped design this site.

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