Tired of performing the same old search? What if the information could come to you?

Filed in Interesting Technologies, Miscellaneous, Showcase by on January 5, 2011

Keeping on top of news and emerging research can be time a consuming task.  However there are tools out there to help you and make this task simpler!  One such tool is Really Simple Syndication (RSS).  You probably have noticed the RSS symbol (see below) on pages you use frequently.

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While RSS has steadily increased in popularity with website developers over the past few years, many people are not aware of the full power of RSS.  The RSS publishing format makes it very easy for content publishers (from large marketing firms to the blogger next door) to distribute information to you.  While this is highly beneficial for the publisher, it can also be used to your advantage helping you to bring all of your new sources to you in one location!  Microsoft “compare[s] RSS Feeds to having your own personal assistant who clips headlines or writes brief summaries of Web content to save you time. You can quickly see which items interest you and then decide which of the full articles to read.”  Now doesn’t that sound easy!

Finding Sites with RSS

Finding sites with RSS is easy!  Just look for the RSS symbol as you are out and about on the web.

Places you are likely to find RSS feeds:

  • News sources like CNN, BBC, NPR, or your local newspaper
  • Blogs
  • Wikis

You may also find RSS feeds in other unlikely spots like search sites.  Some search engines allow you to set up customized RSS feeds that correspond to your specific search terms.  This can be very helpful in stating abreast of research in a particular field.  For example in PubMed, once you have preformed a search you will be able be presented with an RSS link that is specific to your search (more information and a handy tutorial can be found on the PubMed site here:  http://www.nlm.nih.gov/bsd/disted/pubmedtutorial/040_060.html).  PubMed is just one of the many research oriented sites that offers this resource!  The WPI library has more information here http://libguides.wpi.edu/content.php?pid=128931&sid=1106436 on customizing RSS feeds to help in your research

RSS Feed Aggregators

OK, so you have a feed you want to follow from a website or customized search… now what??  RSS feeds can be automatically checked for you! Programs or apps commonly refered to as RSS feed aggregators can automatically check RSS-enabled sites for you retrieving updates and collecting them all in one location. Below are a few examples of RSS feed aggregators. While this list is by no means exhaustive, these three feed aggregators offer a good cross section view of those available.

Have a reader you love? Don’t see it on this list? Please tell us about it by leaving a comment!

Want to read more on RSS?  Check out:

Microsoft’s Introduction to RSS:  http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook-help/introduction-to-rss-HA001230463.aspx

Wikipedia’s article on RSS: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSS

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