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How to use an RSS feed to read my blog and many others

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(UPDATE: I Bumped this old post back to the top, and will again another time or two, so folks understand how to use RSS feeds. They're quite useful for reading lots of blogs and news sites throughout the day.)

We've talked before about RSS feeds, and I wanted to mention another way you can use them to more easily read your favorite blogs and news sites.

First off, an RSS feed is simply a different way to read the new content published on a blog. The "normal" way is to simply visit my blog and read the content. But let's say you have ten favorite blogs and five favorite news sites (like the NYT, AP, etc.) Do you really want to read 15 Web sites a day for your news AND have to visit each of those sites every hour to find the latest news?

Well, RSS feeds helps you do this much more easily and efficiently.

Today, we're going to talk about Google Reader. Google Reader basically works like an email inbox, but the "emails" coming into your inbox are all content from your favorite blogs and news services.

First, here's a good and quick (45 seconds or so) video explaining Google Reader. I suggest you watch it, and turn up your speakers - it's literally less than a minute long (and the guy is hot). (And if you want to read even more, this is a good link for more general info on what an RSS feed is.)

Okay, now let me walk you through it. It's pretty easy.

Go to the Google Reader home page here. If you dont have a Google Reader account already, set one up - it's free and it's easy, and it's quick - do it, it took me like ten seconds, and you can use whatever email address you have, you don't need a gmail address. Once you set up your Google Reader account, head back to the Google Reader home page. When you get there, you'll see this page:

On this page, you see the Google Reader 45 second video I was talking about. Watch it if you haven't already.

Once you're done watching the video, click on the "Add Subscription" button on the left hand side of the page (I numbered it "1"). You'll see a search box open up. Let's say you wanted to subscribe to the AMERICAblog feed. If so, then type americablog in the search box, then click "add." You'll see a number of search results pop up on the right, and the first is our blog. Under the listing for our blog, click the "Subscribe" button. You've now subscribed to my blog's feed. Let's add one more feed so you can see how a few work together. Click again on "add subscription" and then enter "thinkprogress" - when the feed comes up, subscribe to that one too.

Now, in the top left hand corner of the page, click on "All Items." It should take you to a page that looks like this:

You'll see the blogs you subscribed to, listed on the left. The number of posts on that blog that you haven't yet read are listed in parenthesis. And on the right, you see all the recent posts from every blog you subscribed to. Click on any of the titles of the posts on the right and you'll see either a summary of the blog post, or the entire thing. Then scroll down to the next blog post and click again. Each time you click, it will close the previous blog post and open the new one. Very cool. And after you've clicked on several blog posts, look at the top of the row of blog posts and click on the blue button that says "refresh" - that will refresh the page and only list blog posts you haven't read yet.

There's a lot more you can do, experiment by clicking on various buttons, including "home," "expanded view," and even clicking on the left hand side on the names of the various blogs you subscribed to. Also, consider subscribing to your favorite news sites, like Reuters or the New York Times. Just type their names in the "add subscription" button and you can add them too. This is a great way to keep up on a lot of blogs at once.

Oh, and when you're previewing a blog post, you can click on the title of the post and it will take you to the post on the actual blog - that way you can join in the comments, etc.

Let me know if any of you try this, and what you think. Thanks, JOHN

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