Don't Waste Your Time Browsing. (Let the Web Come to You.)
Remember back in the early days of human history when people used to subscribe to magazines? From what I’m told, they would cut wood into really, really thin pieces…and then squirt them with dye. About once a month, they would glue these primitive wooden slabs together to form a laptop-shaped object, which you could open and close. But when you opened the laptop, instead of finding your typical fingerprint reader and digital camera, you’d find even THINNER slabs of wood that had been 'painted' to look like very primitive web pages.
Even though the magazines themselves were cumbersome, these ancient people had a much more highly developed method of distribution: the subscription. Instead of remembering to check the magazine rack for new issues, you could have the magazines you wanted delivered directly to your home every month or whenever a more current edition became available.
In the past couple years, this same method of distribution has slowly been gaining popularity on the web. You may have heard of RSS or feed readers. Basically, RSS is a method of distributing web site content, such as news stories, to everyone who has chosen to subscribe. When a web site uses this technology, it is called an RSS feed.
No other technology has improved my online experience as much as RSS feeds. Using a feed reader, I'm able to easily subscribe to all my favorite news sites, blogs and podcasts. By doing this, I can quickly monitor the activity on dozens, or even hundreds, of web sites through one central location. And, unlike e-mail, your RSS subscriptions are completely in your control--you can remove and add subscriptions whenever you want. Plus, there’s no fear of cluttering your e-mail inbox with more junk mail.
There are a variety of feed readers. I personally use Google Reader, but I know many people who prefer Bloglines. Both are free and make it very easy to get started. Once you set up a free account, you can add web sites from the feed reader itself or look for the RSS symbol on the web sites that you visit frequently.
If you read any news or follow any blogs at all, I’d highly recommend that you try a feed reader. The best part is, unlike the magazines of yesteryear, most RSS subscriptions are free.
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