Here is an entirely incomplete, and grossly minimal overview of RSS feeds and readers. Please use this only to provide a basic understanding of the function and uses of RSS feeds and readers.
RSS feeds: An RSS feed is simply another way of getting the posts from websites you follow. What subscribing to an RSS feed does is sends the posts to something called a reader you access over the internet. In your reader the posts can be organized by the publisher (website or blog) or by item (in this manner they show up much like an inbox). RSS feeds allow you to receive the updates from all your favorite websites automatically in one place. One of the biggest differences in RSS feeds is they send only the text of an article to your reader. No fancy graphics, designs, videos, or pictures.
You can also subscribe to RSS feeds for comments. This is useful if you frequently visit a website and comment and discuss their posts. An RSS comment feed will bring comments to your reader when they’re added.
To subscribe to an RSS feed simply look for a link that says “RSS” or this symbol on any webpage.
Typically, you’ll find this symbol in the same area as the other sharing buttons, such as Facebook, Twitter, Digg, etc. After clicking the symbol your PC will usually prompt you to confirm you want to add the RSS feed to your reader.
Google Reader: I use Google Reader so that’s what I’m familiar with. Other readers are similar. You’re the only one with access to your reader, just like your email account. In Google Reader you can view your feeds in two main ways, 1)Divided by the publisher (website or blog) or 2) Chronologically by post date and time (my preference).
In my google toolbar I added a reader icon, so, again much like my email, I simply click on the icon and it brings me to my Google reader Because I choose to view my google reader by chronological post, the interface looks much like my email inbox. Each line indicates who the publisher is and shows the title of the post. When I click on the title the entire article appears, there is no linking to another site. The articles appear devoid of adds, video or other superfluous stuff. Clicking the title again, minimizes the article back to only publisher and title line.
In google reader, I also have the option of starring articles I like and may want to revisit. Lastly, there is a google reader app for my smart phone. The app allows me to scroll through my RSS feeds and read full articles while on the go. This has been the biggest revelation for me.
So there’s a basic overview. To try out RSS feeds, why don’t you subscribe to the Essentials of Nutrition RSS feed by clicking the link in the upper right hand corner. 😉