Honestly, RSS (Really Simple Syndication), combined with free online software like Google Reader, will transform the way you find and read information on the Internet. Instead of having to bookmark your favourite sites, then visit them every now and again to look for new articles, by using RSS all those interesting articles will be delivered straight to your PC or Mac so you can read them when you want to.
RSS isn't limited to just blog or site articles. You can subscribe to podcasts this way, peoples photostreams in Flickr, comments on sites, and countless other forms of content. It's brilliant!
By choosing to subscribe to sites, podcasts, and photographers you like, you'll build your own online Photography Magazine - with the content you want (and like), and best of all, it's free:
Lets get started. First up, sign up for a Google account. You might not want to use Gmail (but I don't see why not, it's the best!), but you will want access to Google Reader.
Now you've got your Google account, just look for the "Reader" link near the top left hand corner of your screen, check it out, but it'll be empty at the 'mo.
Excited yet? Now we can start collecting RSS feeds. Why not start at Joe McNallys Blog?
On most sites, like Joe's, you'll see an obvious link somewhere on the page to click - but notice the orange square on the right-hand side of your browsers address bar? Click there and you can subscribe to his posts too. (You may get get a choice of feeds - go for RSS, and posts, not comments. Unless you want the comments of course!)
When we click on the "RSS Feed" link on Joe's site, we're taken to this complicated looking page, but don't worry, just click on the "Google" logo - or if you're lucky it will just say "subscribe with Google".
Next we have to tell our browser to add Joe's feed to Google Reader:
Then we'll find that Mr McNallys latest posts are in Reader, ready to be read, and whenever he writes something new they will appear here, without you having to visit his site again!
So what? I can hear you thinking - all that effort when I could have just visited the site and read the post. You're right - when you're building up your subscriptions this might seem a hassle, but just think, for every RSS you add, you'll never have to hunt through your book-marks again!
Now you need to go and add some more RSS feeds to Google Reader, in the same way we did in the above example. Try The Luminous Landscape , Scott Kelbys Blog and Photofocus to start off with.
What you'll notice is that in some feeds you don't get the whole post, just a snippet or title with a link that'll take you to the site to read the rest of the article.
You can also use RSS and Google Reader to subscribe to peoples YouTube Channels, so you get all their latest Video uploads. Have a look at Cameralabs Channel, and click the orange RSS icon in the right-hand side of your browser address bar. (Not the Youtube Subscribe links on the page).
Maybe you've got some favourite Photographers you like to follow on Flickr. Why not subscribe to their photostreams?
(The above is Andreas Øverland's photostream, highly recommended!)
We've only just begun to scratch the surface of the power of RSS and Google Reader - delve a little deeper in Reader and you'll see how easy it is to organise your feeds into folders or groups, email and share them, let alone all the different content you can subscribe to with RSS feeds.
Keep building your subscriptions, be pro-active in deleting the ones you don't like or seldom read, and build your own, constantly updating, free, online Photography Magazine!
(PS Don't forget to subscribe to this sites RSS feed!)