What are RSS feeds?
News feeds allow you to see when websites have added new content. You can get the latest headlines and video in one place, as soon as it is published, without having to visit the websites you have taken the feed from.
Feeds are also known as RSS. There is some discussion as to what RSS stands for, but most people plump for 'Really Simple Syndication'. In essence, the feeds themselves are just web pages, designed to be read by computers rather than people.
How do I start using feeds?
In general, the first thing you need is something called a news reader. This is a piece of software that checks the feeds and lets you read any new articles that have been added. There are many different versions, some of which are accessed using a browser, and some of which are downloadable applications.
Browser-based news readers let you catch up with your RSS feed subscriptions from any computer, whereas downloadable applications let you store then on your main computer, in the same way that you either download your e-mail using Outlook, or keep it on a web-based service like Hotmail.
Once you have chosen a news reader, all you have to do is to decide what content you want it to receive. For example, if you would like the latest European Research information, simply click the orange button on the right hand side.
If you click on the RSS button you can subscribe to the feed in various ways, including by dragging the URL of the feed into your news reader or by cutting and pasting the same URL into a new feed in your news reader. Most sites that offer feeds use a similar orange button, but some may just have a normal web link.
Some browsers, including Firefox, Opera and Safari, automatically check for feeds for you when you visit a website, and display an icon when they find one. This can make subscribing to feeds much easier. For more details on these, please check their websites.
Which reader should I use?
There are a range of different news readers available and new versions are appearing all the time. Different news readers work on different operating systems, so you will need to choose one that will work with your computer.