Noob Guide: RSS Readers

RSS (Rich Site Summary) feeds have been around since 1995; well before the current generation spent all of their days in front of the internet. There was popularity spike in 2004-2006 but has since died down. Most of us internet “power users” still agitate our own feeds but with the entire world being connected it makes more sense now then ever.

rss-feed-big

You might be thinking to yourself “Why do I need a news feed? I follow everything I like on Facebook”; which would have been true if Facebook didn’t force pages to promote their posts with cold hard cash. If you think long and hard about that band you “liked” when you first joined Facebook forever ago and then think “when was the last time I seen one of their updates” it’ll start to make sense to you. With a RSS reader you don’t miss a beat.

I spend most of my day on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Imgur. These keep me connected to the people I love, the posts I love, posts that keep me scratching my head, and posts that keep me entertained (in that order). What this doesn’t do is keep me connected to what’s important in the world. Sure, trending news gets shoved down your throat through any social network; but what about when you stay up to date on something more than that depressing story of a father leaving his kid in a car or the world cup? That’s where RSS feeds come in handy.

The great thing about RSS feeds is they’re completely customizable. Not only can you enter only the sites you want to follow, but for most sites you can stick strictly to a single category. With the right application/website combo your read/un-read articles will sync across devices and you can stay up to date with the world in a fashion that’s easier than even Facebook (and even your grandma can handle this).

The one and only downfall to RSS readers is that if you go crazy with adding feeds they can stock pile fast. I have my feed set to a manageable amount, which is 40 “sources”. When I wake up and check it in the morning I have 100~200 unread articles. This may sound like a lot but when you’re skimming most of it to get ALL OF THE NEWS, it really isn’t bad. I roughly check my feed 4 times a day, and the other 3 leave me with 20~40 unread articles. Doesn’t sound anywhere near as bad now does it? Keep in mind that I’m a newsaholic, and I doubt you’ll have 40 sources to work with.

feedly

Interested? Well then let’s get you started! I hate not having options to recommend so we’re jumping straight into how awesome Feedly is! Feedly is the easiest, most beautiful reader I’ve ever seen. On the downfall, it seems to be the only cross-platform reader available so you’re not given many choices. It’s downloadable for iOS, Google Play, and even a 3rd party app (Readiy) keeps Windows 8 devices in the mix. At least the only choice seems like a solid solution. So there’s that.

Edit/Update: It’s come to my attention that the Feedly app for iOS is “garbage”. Luckily Feedly offers an onslaught of 3rd party apps for all platforms. You can find a list of them on Feedly’s official site.

Once you set your Feedly account, it will help you find new sites to follow. But of course “most popular” doesn’t always mean the best. I’m going to provide a list of sties I follow to help you out but get creative and add your own. If you bookmark sites, add all of them! Why not!? You just might to take it slow to get started. Get in the habit of adding to your daily network checks. You know how you already check Facebook then Twitter then Tumblr then whatever else? Well add Feedly to that “whatever else”!

My favorite sites I follow:

  • Irina Voskanova

    Another cross-platform RSS Reader – Flowreader at http://www.flowreader.com – brings both web news and social accounts feeds.