R.S.S. is an acronym for Rich Site Summary, but the term generally used is Really Simple Syndication. That might be really simple to a geek, but for the rest of us, it sounds really complicated. In fact, what it does is quite straightforward. When you click on the RSS feed of a website or blog, you are signing up to that site so that you can receive all the new posts. The RSS feed symbol is an icon (like the one here): you just click on the image to download the RSS feed. You’ll have to find it first, though — it may be at the top, in the URL of the website, or at the bottom or the side, and it can be orange or blue. Once you’ve hunted down the icon, you need to know how to download the RSS feed. How do you want to receive the new posts this RSS feed will be sending? By email, or via a dedicated website for reading RSS feeds, called a Reader? A Reader site automatically downloads all new posts appearing on a blog whose RSS feed you have downloaded. (Are you still with me?) All you need to know is that a Reader lets you view all the recent posts on the blogs you follow, grouped together.
Website publishers are increasingly making it easier by letting you sign up directly to their site or their RSS feed. They offer a number of options. You can download the feed direct to your inbox, just by giving your email address. Do this only for your favourite websites or blogs, as you’ll get the posts in real time. Others offer a list of Readers where you can view their RSS feeds (Google, Yahoo, Delicious, Netvibes, etc.). These can be adapted to cover the websites or blogs you want to follow on a regular basis. You might want to open your Reader twice a week, for instance, to catch up with recent posts on your favourite blogs.
There is another option — if you want constant updates from a particular website, you can sign up to its newsletter, provided there is one. This way, you’ll receive all the posts on it in a given period, which could be weekly or monthly.