Who says the Golden Age of Exploration is over when you have the Internet spanning without an end in sight. Sometimes discovering valuable, fresh content is akin to cutting your way through a jungle with a machete and a map that’s not quite as accurate as one would hope.
But salvation comes in RSS. Whether you have your feed reader as an app on a device or an extension on your browser, you have a direct way to the best of content out there.
What is an RSS feed?
It’s all around us on the Internet, but few seemingly know about it and its origin. RSS is a protocol for syndicating articles and posts from news sites and blogs. Hence why it’s called ‘Real Simple Syndication’ – sometimes, Rich Site Summary. RSS allows Internet users to access the new posts from numerous sources in a single location; the RSS feed reader.
This is the technological basis for just about anything happening on the Internet. Your feeds on social media? Getting the latest episodes of your favorite podcast on Spotify? That’s all thanks to RSS. Even the idea for feeds comes from RSS feeds. An RSS feed is basically a pretty simple code in XML that strips down a site’s posts to their core components, which are then accessed by RSS feed readers.
Why use RSS for content discovery?
It’s not news to anyone to hear the Internet’s a big place. It gets bigger and bigger. You can look at the numbers of data created in 2020 alone and just gape at the magnitude of our ability to create content and digital footprints.
This means there are a lot of authors, publications, articles and headlines being published without us knowing. What’s worse still is that we might not even know how to look for them, if Google returns only the same results for the same keywords. You also can’t avoid the results from forum posts, discussion threads and other useless sources.
RSS shrinks the pool of information available and structures subscriptions in a way that makes it easier to discover important articles within your feeds.
What are the benefits of using RSS feeds?
RSS greatly improves workflow and productivity levels for office workers handling information. Thanks to integration with platforms like IFTTT and Zapier, RSS readers build on top of their core features and automate a lot of office processes. Used correctly, RSS can greatly boost efficiency at the workplace and rival other productivity tools.
The current generation of RSS feed readers work towards automating processes and building links to other platforms. Marketers are able to use feed readers to conduct keyword monitoring, while teams can organise their work at a far greater capacity.
RSS proves itself indispensable in a lot of detail-oriented projects, but first… let’s talk about the basics. What are the basic conveniences you can take advantage of.
Saves you time
Even in its most basic features, RSS saves you time. You don’t have to open multiple tabs, which after a while makes navigating your browser cumbersome. Not to mention the negative impact on its speed. Articles can be read in full in RSS feed readers. Visiting sites and refreshing homepages is also taken care of. Each action takes seconds to perform, but seconds pool together in minutes, and over time into hours.
Automation lies at the heart of RSS – now more than ever. The only way RSS feed readers could survive this long after the peak in RSS’s popularity is outgrowing their initial function as a way to consolidate and organize your reading. The current generation of readers can do so much more – filter in and out what content from your subscriptions comes in, send notifications, even share on social media.
Everything at one place
We’ve already touched upon how your content is directed into only one dashboard. Aside from a boost in speed, this feature has other benefits:
SEEING THE BIG PICTURE: You can better see what headlines are breaking at a given moment whether it’s in your industry or field of interest. Similar publications will follow the same pattern in reporting, which can be helpful in identifying trends and newsworthy moments. Inoreader has a tool especially directed at news junkies – Duplicate Filters.
CLEAR BROWSER, CLEAR MIND: You know how it’s said that a clean, orderly desk helps to clear the mind and increase focus? The same principle works with your digital space. The fewer open tabs and social media platforms, the more focus you can expend on your work.
Only the topics you like
The big drawback to getting your news and information through social media has to be the lack of rhyme or reason in what gets to you. Not only are you at the mercy of seeing what people in your circles like (not always relevant to your interests), but you can see the same article or video or even picture over and over again. Algorithms are the worst in that respect.
RSS hands over the reins to your reading experience. Feed readers often lower the barriers to new content discovery based on a user’s interests. You’ll have readers ask you about topics of interest at the moment of account creation – Inoreader does this, and also recommends top-ranked feeds to get you started.
Information from trusted sources
A side benefit to having control over your subscriptions is knowing where the information comes from – a digital necessity for our lives online. Everyone can publish anything on the Internet and make it seem accurate, truthful, undeniable. It’s very easy to fall down a rabbit hole of falsehoods and misinformation.
Rather than have to stay on your toes every single time you encounter a hair-raising headline and do detective work, go through the selection process early and only once. RSS feed readers don’t populate your feed with anything you haven’t approved. Do your research early and find out what sources you can trust before subscribing to them. You shape your own reality. RSS readers also tend to index sites with a large readership and established reputation such as CNN.