RSS – A more efficient way to waste your time online

If you already use an RSS reader, go ahead and skip this one. If you don’t know what RSS is, read on. Actually, forget reading, just watch this video from Common Craft:

Got it? Instead of wasting your time going through all of your bookmarks each day, not knowing if you’ll find anything new or not, you just check your RSS reader to see what’s new. It’s like email… you only check your inbox; you don’t check the “sent” folder of each of your friends to see if they’ve sent anything to you.

I did a presentation on this in school, but unfortunately it’s on my old computer which I don’t feel like plugging in right now. Common Craft fortunately says it about the way I like to explain it, so no worries.

When it comes to RSS readers, I used to use NetNewsWire, which is Mac-only. I’d just leave it running in the background all day (with no open windows), and whenever I got a new message, the Dock icon would update, just like Mail does for new emails (and now even RSS feeds, if you choose to show them in your inbox). I could even browse the headlines just by right-clicking on the Dock, without cluttering my screen with another open window. There was no time wasted checking for new items; I’d only interact with it if I knew there was something new. If you only follow a few sites, there’s not even really a need for a separate application; you can use Live Bookmarks in Firefox or simply bookmark an RSS feed in Safari. They’ll let you know what’s new.

About a year ago, I stopped using NetNewsWire and started using Google Reader (disclaimer) instead. The main reason behind this was that I now use multiple computers (including an iPhone) each day, so I needed an online solution that would keep the read/unread status of each item in sync across machines. I always have a web browser open, so the fact that it’s web-based isn’t really a problem, but I do miss the Dock icon functionality.

Oh, and my feed? It’s right here: http://www.thewysz.com/wyszdom/feed/

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