RSS: The easiest way to keep up with online news

February 22, 2008

Don't be a Web hopper. You can scan headlines from your favorite sites all at one location through RSS feeds.

Don’t be a Web hopper. You can scan headlines from your favorite sites all at one location through RSS feeds.

RSS, which stands for “Really Simple Syndication,” is a technology that brings the online news you want to a single Web page. With RSS feeds, you can view the latest headlines and summaries from the Web sites, say, of JAMA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Diabetes Association, the Kevin, M.D., blog, Business Week, and even Medical Economics. Just click on a headline for the full story.

To display your headlines, you’ll need a software program called a news reader, also known as a feed reader or aggregator. There are three basic kinds-those like FeedDemon that you download to your computer, those like Bloglines that you access online, and those built into popular portals like My Yahoo, myAOL, and Google (Google Reader). All the ones listed above are free.

Not every Web site can supply your news reader with RSS feeds. The ones that can sport an orange square

along with information on how to subscribe to the feed. Sometimes it’s as simple as clicking on the RSS icon, choosing your news reader from a list, and following the instructions. You can always copy and paste the URL for the feed into your news reader. Late-model Web browsers come with the ability to detect sites with RSS feeds and walk you through the subscription process.

At the same time, news readers typically give you the ability to search for RSS-enabled Web sites up your alley and then subscribe to them. And remember, the headlines and summaries brought to you by RSS are constantly refreshed. It’s a simple way to stay current on whatever’s important to you-whether it’s EHRs, mutual funds, or Greek cuisine.

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