The best thing about web 2.0 — that is, social media, blogs, and the rest of the interactive Internet — is that you can have interesting information come to you. Using the right tools, you can set things up so great content comes to you while you’re doing something else. Then you can interact with it and with the content’s creators on your own schedule.
My last two Resource of the Week posts were about Twitter, as a tool for listening as well as a tool for connecting. Today’s post talks about RSS feeds and specifically Feedly, one of the most popular tools for harnessing the power of RSS.
RSS stands for “real simple syndication” (or “real site summary”). It’s a way for web publishers to syndicate their content automatically. When a blogger, for example, publishes a blog post, it’s automatically delivered to everyone who subscribes to the blog’s RSS feed. Because of RSS, a website’s readers don’t have to visit the website to see whether any new content has been published. As soon as the website publishes new content, it’s delivered automatically to its RSS subscribers.
Feedly is a tool for subscribing to multiple RSS feeds and organizing the content in a way that makes sense to the user. Using an RSS aggregator like Feedly allows you to go to a single place to read all the new content that you’ve subscribed to. It’s incredibly simple and efficient.
To subscribe to a website’s RSS feed, click on the site’s orange RSS icon as shown below.
This takes you to the website’s RSS feed. The web address for Blue Maven Law is http://feeds.feedburner.com/BlueMavenLaw. Then click on the “add content” link in Feedly (see the arrow below) and drop the web address to the website you want to subscribe to in the search box (circled below). Feedly has good search functionality, also, so you can search for a website by name instead of going to the website to get the exact web address of its RSS feed. Feedly also allows you to search by category, such as business, tech, and marketing (see the colored boxes below).
Once you subscribe to a website’s RSS feed, the most recent content will automatically be displayed in Feedly in reverse chronological order. Here’s a screenshot of Feedly’s display of Blue Maven Law’s blog content:
Feedly also allows you to organize your feeds intelligently. I have my feeds organized into categories such as contracts, business, legal practice, and news. I also have a category for blogs I want to follow closely. I review this feed every day so I don’t miss content from my favorite websites. It takes only a few minutes a day to sift through the new content from hundreds of blogs to identify the pieces I want to read. Here’s a screenshot of the feed on my phone, which is where I run through my Feedly feed each morning:
Running through the items on my phone is a lot like sifting through Twitter’s newsfeed. It’s quick and easy.
If you haven’t tried Feedly or another RSS aggregator, I urge you to give it a try. It’s an incredibly efficient way to discover new and interesting content.
Next week I’ll introduce you to a tool — Instapaper — that can help you easily save content so you can read it when you have spare time.