Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Beginners Guide to RSS

If you want to start using RSS, it can be confusing. Here is a very rough walk-through some of the RSS options. First set up your aggregator. You have two choices. A stand-alone app or a web-based app. For a stand-alone app, I like SharpReader. Using it is pretty obvious. It comes with a few feeds, like Wired, cnet, slashdot, NYT. To add a feed, copy the URL (my blog is into the field. if you want to keep, it click subscribe. from time to time, click refresh, as needed.

For a web-based readers see Bloglines , which lets you subscribe to feeds via a web interface. You can view all your feeds on the left and the content of the feed on the right. clicking on a link will launch a browser to open the URL.

You can also do this on

Bloglines also lets you share your aggregated feeds with other users. There is a public view. See TechSoup's public bloglines. This was set up to organize npo blogs by NTEE category. This view can also be exported an an XML file, so you dont have to go to bloglines to view it, you can import it into the aggregator of your choice.

Bloglines (like also lets you generate some javascript code that anyone can insert in their website, the display of which can be controlled by css. Bloglines also created a "blogroll," which is an RSS feed of all the RSS feeds I subscribe to.

Still with me? is a social bookmarking site where you use a toolbar widget to bookmark a site and assign certain tags (categories) to describe that page. Look at my delicious page. The sixth item is User Guide to Linux Desktop. I have assigned it the tags "guide" "linux" and "openSource". 11 other people have also bookmarked that page. click on the words linux and you'll see all the pages that *I* have bookmarked as "linux" (there's only one).

Click on "and 11 other people" and you'll get a page showing who those 11 people are and how they tagged this article. you'll see on the side that there are some common tags (linux, guide, tutorial). Click on those links and you'll be viewing an aggregation of all pages tagged by all users as linux.

All of these pages generate their own rss feed. So you can subscribe to my delicous feed, or just my linux feed, or the aggregated feed of all users' linux feeds.

Spurl is a social bookmarking tool, which lets you assign categories like delicious to your bookmarks; in fact when you spurl it automatically adds the bookmark to the appropriate delicious tag .... More on spurl to come.

Yes, it gets pretty mindboggling, and it takes a while to get your head around the meta-meta nature of this stuff.