If you're anything like me, you read content from a bunch of different websites each day. You might go to the Wall Street Journal's site to stay up to date on financial news, CNN.com for your general news, and maybe a local news site. Plus you probably read some blogs regularly (like this one I hope) as well as a number of other random websites (Groupon, sports scores, etc.).
Wouldn't it be great if you could read all that content in one place? Well, it turns out you can. Virtually every news website and blog offers an option called RSS (Really Simple Syndication) which lets you pull new content from their site into one central location. This can obviously save you a lot of time because you don't have to check dozens of different websites anymore, and it also helps you stay more up-to-date with current information.
Here's how it works:
Step 1: Choose an RSS Reader
Different websites offer "RSS Feeds" which you can subscribe to, but first you'll need to pick an application that you'll use to actually read the content. There are lots of RSS readers out there, but I think Google Reader is the best. The only reason I'd recommend looking around for a different reader is if you would like to be able to read this content when you're offline (on an airplane for example).
If you want to use Google Reader, go to www.Google.com/Reader and sign up.
Most websites will have this RSS icon in the header, sidebar, or footer. Click on it to subscribe to that site's RSS feed.
Step 2: Subscribe to content
Once you've chosen your reader, you'll need to subscribe to your favorite blogs and news sites. There are a lot of different ways to do this, but I suggest you go directly to the sites that you read regularly, and look for an RSS Icon. Some sites don't have the icon displayed prominently, so you might need to look around on the site for the term "RSS". Headers, sidebars and footers are normally where you'll find these links.
Once you click on the RSS link, you'll normally see instructions for subscribing with your RSS reader. Sometimes you'll need to just copy the URL of the feed and enter it manually into your reader. This probably sounds complicated, but it's really very simple once you get the hang of it.
Step 3: Check your RSS Reader instead of individual websites
Once you're subscribed to all your favorite blogs and websites, you can stop checking them regularly. Whenever you want to read some news, just go to your RSS reader and you'll be able to see all the new content. HMy RSS Reader (The Google Reader widget on iGoogle) shows five stories, all from different blogs. I can click on any of the articles to see the full content without leaving Google Reader. If I decide that I want to leave a comment or look around the site, it's easy to click through from the reader to the actual website.
I strongly recommend that you try this out for yourself if you aren't already using an RSS reader. If you're skeptical, just try clicking on the green RSS logo at the top right of this site and see where that takes you. Leave a comment if you have any questions.