One of the emerging technologies in this Web 2.0 fad is called “RSS” or Really Simple Syndication. This XML-based technology is used for a variety of purposes such as news feeds, podcasts, and sending out regularly updated information. As a matter of fact, this blog has an RSS feed; you can identify sites easily with Firefox because they have the icon, shown on the left, in the right hand side in the address bar.
So great, RSS sounds neat, but how is it used? RSS can be used with 3rd party applications, but instead I’m going to talk about Google Personalized Pages. I’ve noticed one of the most commonly used homepages for people is Google. How about we get some more use out of that Google homepage?
Do you have sites you visit on a daily or regular basis? Perhaps you have a news site that you check every morning at work? Chances are those sites have RSS feeds. For me, I check out sites such as Digg and Slashdot. I check these sites frequently because they are updated on a regular basis. Instead of going to the site, I can add the RSS feed to my Google personalized page. This feed will give me the title and URL of the of the news articles that have been recently added to the website.
So how do we start our Google personalized page? We first go to the Google homepage and find the link at the top right that says “Personalized Home.” Already we see a lot of new content including a calendar, weather, date & time, etc. To add our RSS feed we go to the “Add Content »” link at the top left of the page. Once there we can do one of two things: search for the RSS feed or add it manually. The easy way is to obviously search for it. For our example, we will add the Digg RSS feed. Simply type “digg” in the search field at the top, hit the search button, and click on “Add it Now” button next to the search result. To see the RSS feed, click on the “« Back to homepage” link. There you have it; we have the RSS feed that is dynamically updated when new content is added to the website.
So what if you don’t find the RSS feed in the search or you have the URL of an RSS feed you would like to add? Go back to the “Add Content” link. Next, go to the search form and click on the “Add by URL” link. In the new form that appears we will enter the URL of the RSS feed for the site. Continuing our example, we will add the Digg RSS feed: http://digg.com/rss/index.xml. After we add it, go back to your homepage and you will see the RSS feed has been added to the homepage.
Now that you know how to find and add RSS feeds to your Google Personalized Page, go ahead and rearrange the various feeds to your liking. Google makes it easy to do this by using drag and drop methods.
There is one last note I would like to add. Google personalized pages can be used anywhere you sign on. For example, I use this as my homepage at both work and home. If I make a change at work, it shows up when I come home and vice-versa. This happens because it uses your Gmail account to save your data. If you do not have a Gmail account, you may create a Google personalized page account to use for this purpose.