I Was a RSS Virgin

I first found out about [tag]Really Simple Syndication[/tag] from an e-mail newsletter article by Kamau Austin. I was automatically subscribed to this newsletter when I signed up with some different advertising networks. They all run together in a blur now, and I don’t remember the name of the one that actually transferred that baggage to me, but I have actually found it useful in some ways. That was when I was previously another kind of virgin, tangled in the complicated net of advertising on the World Wide Web. But that’s another story.

The newsletter was Site Pro News. I discovered that there is yet another whole world out there that I knew nothing about. But there were several points about the idea of web syndication, that appealed to my independent and free-spirited nature. Really I was originally attracted to Web publishing about ten years ago, because of the Freedom of Expression that could not be compared to any other medium. At that time just publishing a website was still new and different for me. But that’s another story.

I’m not going to impress you with any statistics here, but I’m sure that since the early nineties, the number of websites that are potentially useful and interesting to you or me has increased exponentially, beyond what is possible to document. That’s great, but you can spend a lot of time searching for compatible sites, losing their addresses, sometimes working with dysfunctional spiders, and tolerating information that is repeated over and over again, to find what you’re looking for. For us, the people who publish this website we call Listen & Be Heard Weekly, the best thing about syndicating our articles and columns, is that we can give people exactly what they’re looking for. The best thing about Really Simple Syndication is that you can now be the editor of a newspaper that only publishes articles that you want to read, from a wide variety of sources chosen by you.

That sounds good doesn’t it? So I thought, “that’s worth looking into,” and I started visiting some of the links in the article, and looking up the numerous terms I didn’t actually understand, that techspeak, that goes over my head and makes me feel inadequate. But I didn’t give up, and I’m here to testify that you too will want to let [tag]RSS [/tag] into your life. For those who will read no further than the next line or two, you can just take note that I’ve made some of this so easy for you that you really don’t have to do anything. Just look to the right of this article, and you will see that for you I have added what are called “headline boxes” to this web page. Some news providers offer these for other sites to publish. One contains arts headlines from the New York Times. The other one has the same from a site called AbsoluteArts.com. The headlines in these boxes are updated on a daily and sometimes hourly basis. So even though I write this letter once a week, you will find fresh arts headlines here every day. You will find more headlines on our homepage, and other places on the site, all relating to arts, or poetry or theatre, and more to come as I find them. That’s nice for you, because I have spent many hours searching and choosing. So, when you visit us each day to read the Poem of the Day, you can also visit our homepage for the latest national arts and entertainment news headlines.

Now if you made it this far, and you really do want to be the editor of your own world wide newspaper, then you need to have a browser that will read xml files, or you need to download one of many free newsreaders available on-line. You’ll find the addresses to a few in the sidebar on the right of this article. I use the Safari browser that came with Mac OSX. I like being able to use my browser because I already use it, and life is complicated enough already. But you don’t have to have the most popular operating system, or prettiest computer. There is a newsreader for you, because Really Simple Syndication is really simple, once you find what you’re looking for, that is. Once you have the right software for you, then you have to find the authors that you want writing for you.

For me, the biggest obstacle is the search for the unique qualities that I am looking for. It can take hours, days even, to find the writers and sites you’re looking for. But once you find the newsfeeds that you want, you just add them to your list, and then, whenever there is a new article, a summary of the article and a link to the full content on the site on which it’s published, will be displayed for you. That saves you a lot of foreplay and allows you to spend more time with what really interests you.

There are numerous feeds available on numerous subjects. You can start by looking for the RSS boxes I have placed on some of our own pages (check the sidebar for links to all of those pages, and some other ones that you might find interesting). You can now sign up for some of our columns individually, or for one feed with links to all the new articles, columns and art on our site each week. You’ll find links to some other feeds of interest on the Poem of the Day, and more to come on other pages as we discover all the unique and interesting entities out there that we think would be of interest to you.

You could just make us your homepage, and never search for a newsfeed yourself. Or you can be bold, and go ahead and enter some search criterion, and see what fish are in the sea waiting for you to find them. I hope this little discussion has been helpful to you. Now you must find out for yourself what the mystery is all about. Wishing you Success in your Pursuit.

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