In this day and age, we must be increasingly selective about what and how we read. As the internet grows, so does the options for news and information delivery to our monitors, tablets, and phones. Such technological advances have forced us to be better time and information managers in controlling access to our professional duties and our personal interests.
If you’re not careful, you can let your desktop or mobile notifications overwhelm your day. The incessant dinging, beeping, and buzzing pull away our attention. Luckily, there are tools available to help you delegate your finite resource of attention to the infinite world of information.
What Is RSS?
RSS (Rich Site Summary; originally RDF Site Summary; often called Really Simple Syndication) is an online content feed that delivers information to the subscriber in an aggregated format. A summary of regularly changing information on a website can be gathered and delivered to the user through email or a RSS reader, allowing the user to keep track of many information sources through a streamlined resource.
RSS helps to reduce the problem of information overload as well as the need to browse each website for updated content each time it changes. For example, you may have several websites you like to check for national news, local news, stories on your favorite sports teams, some legal blogs and a few opinion writers you like to hear from. By using this tool, you do not have to open and review each specific webpage for your latest stories. Instead, RSS aggregators (often referred to as “readers”) present the information from all those sites directly to you in one, simple interface to read and even further sort and categorize.
How Do I Start Using RSS?
Okay, you’re ready to start streamlining your information using RSS instead of wasting time and energy visiting each website individually. Now what?
Here is a list of RSS aggregators. If this looks too overwhelming, try two of the more popular readers: Feedly and Digg. Each tool gives you a different experience (some for free; some for a small fee) and can be customized to your own reading experience. Regardless of which you use, the readers will pull recently updated information from each site in almost real-time, ensuring you’re keeping up on the latest news.
Now, you need to add the content to your RSS feed. This is commonly done by finding the RSS feed icon or a hyperlink to RSS, XML, or RDF on the site, typically alongside the social media icons and links. You may copy the feed link (typically ending in “.xml”) and paste it into your RSS reader.
Unfortunately, RSS is not a foolproof way to end browsing all your information sources online. Not all content sites publish RSS feeds, so you’ll still be surfing for new content (Tip: make such pages a separate tab on your homepage which you may quickly check for changes each time you restart your browser). Try it out and you may be pleasantly surprised at how much time and trouble you can save.
There you have it! Another way to use technology to work smarter, not harder.
It is clear that becoming conversant, if not proficient, in technology is now required for being an effective lawyer. (It’s even written into a comment to Rule of Professional Conduct 1.1 that defines competence.) So, promoting professionalism includes promoting technology. We are devoting a blog in the first week of each month to an issue of technology. If I can learn it, so can you!