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RSS, What it is, Why you should use it and Why I don’t anymore

Posted: July 22nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: General, Simple Tip | 2 Comments »

This is post in response to reader who had some questions about what this thing he has seen on websites called RSS is.

What It Is

If you’ve done any browsing on the World Wide Internets, you probably have notice a little symbol that looks something like this.It’s an icon for a data format known as RSS. If you want the full definition and explanation, visit the wiki article, but for everyone else, here is the 50 cent version. RSS is a simple page on a site that lists that last 10 or so new posts/articles from a particular site or blog. This blog is an example of one that does (look on the right sidebar to see the link). Every time a new post or article gets written, the RSS webpage, known as a RSS Feed, gets updated. However, this page is not very user friendly, as its stored in XML (View this sites RSS FEED, to see how ugly it is). As you can tell, these pages are not meant to be visited by humans. Instead, there are tools known as RSS Readers that will read these RSS Feeds, and display the information in a human readable fashion. The really cool feature about RSS Readers, is you can have many different feeds from a whole slew of sites in one RSS Reader.

Why You Should Use It

Well, it shouldn’t take long to see the benefits of using an RSS Reader. Instead of going to 10 (or 100) of your favorite sites to see if they have updated, you just go to your RSS reader and it will show you the latest post from all of your blog/sites. The only problem you may face is figuring out which RSS Reader to use. I will not go through and list them all, but I will just say you have 2 main choices in RSS Readers

  1. App for your Computer
  2. Webapp in a Browser
It doeesn’t matter Mac or PC (yes, the order was intended), there are a whole slew of apps for reading RSS ready for your use. Just do a google search (Mac or PC) and you will see a plethora of options. Usually apps are nicer looking, but you must be at your computer to use them.
The other choice is to use a webapp, namely Google Reader. This is nice, because you can access your feeds anywhere in the world, but you must use a browser and not your pretty app. If you have a Google Account (think Gmail or Google+) than you already have access to Google Reader (if not, you can sign up for free). Just go to and you will be able to get started. Just paste in the feeds of the blog you would like to follow (here’s a good one to start with :), and then let RSS do the rest. You should see articles appearing and now whenever you come back to this page, you will be able to see all the latest posts from across the internet.
Quick note: One nice feature about Google Reader is the fact that it syncs with many desktop apps, so you can access your RSS Feeds anywhere in the world from a browser, as well via your nice looking app you have on your computer, and they will all sync together. I guess you can have your cake and eat it to.
Why I no longer use RSS
I have been a big fan of RSS for sometime and have used it to keep up on the latest topics and trends about the things I’m concerned about. However, a new trend has occurred that has caused me to switch how I do things. I now use Twitter to curate the news for me. I just make lists of the different blogs I would like to follow, since most blogs tweet whenever they launch a new post, and I can see the new post the next time I check the Twitters. This may not be for everyone, but if RSS sounds confusing, scary or just boring, you might give it a try.
So what about you? Do you use RSS, Twitter, or do you not see a point to either of these tools?




Thoughts on Google+

Posted: July 1st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: General, New Technology | No Comments »

For those that are not aware, Google has launched its own foray into the Social Media game (again), but this time has invested even more of its technological clout than any of their previous attempts. It is called, Google+.

The short and quick version is, Google created a Social Network based on Circles (ie Family, Friends, Work, etc) that you can place different people into. It has a home page that is very similar to Facebook News feed. The features Google will try to differentiate itself is the way it will tie into all its existing services (an easy share bar on all Google Pages, integration with Picasa Web Albums, a slick Group Video chat that works pretty smoothly , Youtube integration and more). Its just launched on Wednesday, so time will tell if it will succeed or just be another Google Social Media flop.

I will not give a detailed review about it, since you can find much better reviews already written. Instead, I figured I would just share a couple thoughts about what this means and could mean for Social Media.

1. Competition – Sure, there may have been other so-called Facebook competitors, but lets be realistic, this is the first actually decent sized competition to Facebook. Adding another player to the game will increase competition, and in the end I think that will be good for all. Facebook has a lot of weak points, but up until now, there was not a huge impetus to fix them , since they were the only real player in the game.

2. Fragmentation – I already check Facebook and Twitter to keep up on people I want to know about, I really do not want another place to have to look for updates, pictures and information about people, especially since there is such an established place currently. However, I’m sure people will soon be posting on Google+, and I can’t really expect to see that same information on their Facebook account.

3. Features – Facebook is a Social Media Company first, meaning they live and die by their product. For Google, this is just one of many of their products, so if it fails, big whoop for them, they just keep going. This is good and bad as Facebook will make sure it is a success, Google is given freedom to experiment and try different things, which we all know they will do. However, Google has often fallen prey to their brains, as they will sometimes implement features that are technologically amazing, but that most people just do not care about. Having the most techy site never means the best. Time will tell if Google can overcome this, like they have in other areas (Search, Gmail, Google Maps).

What about you? Whatcha think? Is Google+ a good thing or a bad thing for Social Media?