Saturday, February 09, 2008

The RSS Bandwagon

I've written a number of posts about RSS - Really Simple Syndication - and how useful it is for keeping track of news, people, etc. Unfortunately, I've come to realize that most are unaware of RSS, much less use it one a regular basis. You and I both know that anyone not using RSS is missing out. Even worse, organizations that don't syndicate their content with RSS are missing out on a great opportunity to grow their business, their markets and their audience.

Well it's time for everyone to get on the RSS bandwagon. We can start by pointing people to the Google Reader Blog, which has a great post describing some surprising uses for RSS, including:
Finance: Both Google Finance and Yahoo! Finance let you get finance news updates for specific companies and stocks, just look for orange "Subscribe" or "RSS" icons in your browser. To receive stock quotes (only for some stocks), you can use NASDAQ's feeds.

Weather: You can get weather updates from The Weather Channel, WeatherBug, or NOAA's National Weather Service.

Classifieds: As Gary mentioned, both craigslist and offer feeds for all of their listings. Just look for the orange "RSS" link at the bottom of any results page -- when you subscribe to a search, for, say, apartments under $1500 in Manhattan, you'll get updates when there are new apartments matching that search. Similarly, in eBay you can find an RSS link at the bottom of any search page, and in Google Base near the top-right corner.

Package tracking: If you'd like to track packages that have been sent by UPS, FedEx, USPS or DHL/Airborne, you can use's universal package tracking or

Social networking: Facebook offers feeds for many of its features; you can see notifications, status updates, and your friends' posted items in Reader, as explained on this page. For those of you that are Twitter fans, you can get RSS feeds for many of its pages.

Shopping: Amazon lets you get feeds for the latest popular products as well as wish lists (look for the orange feed icon). Many other shopping web sites offer feeds, including Yahoo! Shopping, MSN Shopping, and NexTag.

Saved searches: Google Blog Search, Google News and most Yahoo! sites (among others) let you subscribe to search results as feeds. This way, if you want to monitor a topic, you don't have to keep running searches over and over again.

What about an RSS reader or aggregator? There's a lot to choose from, including web-based apps you can use from any PC or downloadable applications that run on your PC. There's a great list of both at I prefer the web-based Google Reader. Whitney Hess - a Bloglines Beta user - does a great side-by-side comparison of Google Reader and Bloglines Beta. Whatever reader someone chooses, it should integrate well into their daily workflow.

For your colleagues and friends uncomfortable with RSS, David Armano at Logic+Emotion point us to Alltop - a collection of top (popular) bloggers and their most recent posts - aggregated together on a single page. This is a great way to get someone interested in reading syndicated content and maybe eventually to using RSS.
Using Pageflakes, you can even put together your own collection to share with your friends and colleagues. Here a collection on training and e-learning put together by Karl Kapp and Steve Woodruff.

It's time to discover your inner RSS Evangelist!

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