So what is this RSS Feed thing?

You’ve seen the little orange icons everywhere, but what’s the deal with this “web feed” stuff?

You probably subscribe to a couple magazines and newspapers, delivered right to your door. It would be very inconvenient to drive around to multiple places to pick them up. RSS is a technology that allows you to subscribe to websites. Instead of having to visit each website to see if there is anything new you can subscribe using the RSS feed published on almost any website.

Here are a few examples:

  1. Each day, you read the Wall Street Journal’s Business section, so you subscribe to their news feed to get the latest articles.
  2. You love basketball and want to receive news updates for the NBA via ESPN.
  3. You think Catylist is a great company, and you want to keep up with changes and events via their blog.
  4. You’re currently searching for office space for a client in Tampa. After running your search on Commercial IQ, you click the orange Feed icon in the upper right to have matching listings delivered to you as they’re posted.
  5. To keep up with what’s happening in the commercial real estate industry, you use Yahoo Pipes to build a feed by aggregating and filtering news from several sources (Ok, this one is a little more advanced).

Subscribing to each of these allows you to open one application to read all of the new information posted on all the websites you care about. It’s incredibly convenient and efficient, and you’ll know you’re never missing out on news. Here’s a video with some additional explanation.

Get a Feed Reader

To get started, you’ll need to choose a Feed Reader. Here are the most popular options:

  • Google Reader – This one runs in your browser, so you don’t have to install another application on your Desktop.
  • NetNewsWire – The most popular choice for Macs
  • FeedDemon – One of many decent options for Windows

Once your reader is up and running, keep an eye out for the orange icon on your favorite sites. Welcome to the future!