We’re in the 21st century, not yet to the era where everyone will be famous for 15 minutes, but definitely in the era where everyone with a thought, perspective, opinion, or something to say has a means to do so, thanks to the nearly 200-million websites in the world (mine ranks in the top 2-percent).
Today I climb to the top of my soapbox to tower above the sensational nonsense, people gossip, tech rumors, and Apple v. Android fanboy-isms to bring to your attention a relatively old technology which can, when used properly, make you a better, more informed Mac, iPhone, iPad, or Watch user. The technology is RSS, sometimes referred to as Rich Site Summary, often called Really Simple Syndication but basically a way for websites to publish links to articles; headline and summary.
Add a website’s RSS URL to an RSS reader and you have a simple method to have websites send their headlines and articles to you so you won’t need to rummage through a bunch of disparate bookmarks (which are so 1999). The RSS subscription feed is an XML file. The RSS reader checks the website’s XML file regularly and downloads articles, headlines, and summary, which makes it much, much faster to skim, scan, and read– as opposed to clicking through a mountain of bookmarks, one at a time, ad nauseam, just to find something new and interesting to read.
If you’re on a budget and have never used an RSS reader I can recommend the free, open-source Vienna for Mac. Vienna has been around a few years, and features the now-standard sidebar of RSS subscriptions, and one click summary and headline.
However, if you want a few more bells and whistles and don’t mind skipping your 9:00 am Starbucks run, you can afford Reeder for the Mac, or any one of a dozen similar RSS readers on the Mac App Store; some free, some no more than a few dollars.
What Reeder does is what most RSS readers do– it lets you subscribe to any number of websites with an RSS subscription feed (don’t let the word subscription fool you; it’s all free), and the app checks each site regularly, then downloads any new or unread articles; URL, headlines, and summary.
Additionally, Reeder (and most other RSS readers) will give you one click access to each website, and often display the entire article– not just headline and summary– in a browser window.
Reeder features multiple sharing options from Safari’s Reading List to Instapaper and Pocket, to Pinboard, Facebook, Twitter, and many others. It even has multiple display themes.
Reeder provides support for multiple online RSS subscription services, too, including Feedbag, Feedly, Feed Wrangler, Readability, and many others which keep your RSS urls stored and synchronized online.
Because RSS technology is so old (in relative terms, with roots back to 1995, but with public usage beginning in 1999) some RSS reader developers don’t even bother to describe what the reader does, so it’s not surprising that many Mac and Windows PC users don’t use an RSS reader. Maybe it’s an acquired taste. Maybe the initial setup (add links to sites you want to subscribe to) takes too much time.
Regardless, a good RSS reader and a lengthy subscription list can give you a far faster, easier way to track the news and updates on more websites than mere browsing or using bookmarks. The RSS reader brings the headlines and summary to your Mac, and all you need to do is skim what’s there, which saves a tremendous amount of time. Reeder and other RSS readers also have sharing and archive options galore so gathering, viewing, and storing information cannot be easier.