Have you seen the symbol show on the left on a web site and wondered what it means? This article is about RSS (“Really Simple Syndication”) – a web service that advises you on the latest articles.

Instead of regularly visiting your favourite web sites to see what’s new, you can use a news reader program like Google Reader, to “follow” web site and be information on what is new.

Imagine you enjoy reading the latest news on Slashdot – the popular site for geeks.

You notice a set of icons like those shown above. The orange RSS icon is a link to the RSS feed. I use Google Reader to browse my news feeds. The interface looks like this:

(click on any photo in this article to view full size)

My list of subscriptions is shown on the left. Google Reader allow me to organise my “feeds” into folders. To read an article I click the headline on the right and the article is shown.

Unread articles are shown in a bold typeface and articles already read are shown in normal typeface. You can mark all of the articles as read if you can’t be bothered reading them. I sometimes do this to start my news reading afresh after an absence from the news.

The article can be read inside the news reader. You can access the article on the originating web site by clicking the large headline at the top.

How to add a news feed

Usually you can click an RSS icon and your browser suggests where the feed should be stored. I found a quicker way of right-clicking the icon then choosing “Copy Link Address”.

Return to Google Reader then click the Subscribe link in the top left corner.

The newly pasted link can be moved around. I placed the link in my Top 10 links folder which I noticed has grown to well over ten links! Clicking the Slashdot link will open the recent articles.

Once you have added a few news feeds you should find it as easy to do as a adding a bookmark.

I hope your web reading experienced is enhanced by using RSS. Now I invite you to subscribe to my blog using the links at the top right-hand side of this page.