The purpose of this tutorial is to show you how to start getting access to RSS feeds using Google Reader and then (tomorrow) how to use Mloovi.com to automatically translate feeds from foreign sources and get those feeds into the reader as well.
Beginning at the beginning: What is an RSS feed?
RSS allows blogs and other websites to actually broadcast their content to the wider internet. Anyone who tunes in to a particular feed can have any new content appearing on that feed instantaneously pushed to an RSS feed reader (The advantages to this are substantial for analysts. Check out Push Vs. Pull Sources And Killer Intelligence Apps or this video by Michael Wesch for additional discussion of these advantages).
Step 1: Choose an RSS feed reader
The easiest way to tap into RSS Feeds is through an RSS feed reader (sometimes called an aggregator). This piece of software tracks the feeds you want to read. There are many readers out there and the discussion of which is best is a continuing subject of debate. I like to use Google Reader. It is simple to use, has good support and, because it is a Google product, you can reasonably expect it to remain around and improve over time.
Step 2: Sign up to use the reader
Google Reader requires you to have a Google Account. If you have Gmail or access to other Google web-based services, you likely already have a Google Account. You would use the same username/gmail address and password to sign into Google Reader as you would for Gmail or any of the other services. If you do not have a Google Account you can sign up for one here for free.
Step 3: Identifying a feed
You can subscribe to any site that has the RSS feed symbol in the address bar. Below is the address bar for SAM. As you can see, at the far right, there is an RSS feed symbol meaning that it is possible to subscribe using an RSS feed reader.
Step 4: Subscribe to a feed
Once you decide which feed you want, you will need to subscribe to it in your feed reader (in this case I will use Google Reader as an example but many other readers have similarly easy to use features). While there are several ways to do this, perhaps the easiest for the new user is to merely copy and paste the address of the blog you want to subscribe to into the "Add Subscription" bar on the middle lefthand side of Google Reader (see picture below). Once you have entered the feed, click on the add button.
Many large websites (such as CNN and ISN) have multiple RSS feeds. You can subscribe to all or some of them. For example, CNN's feed page allows you to pick and choose the feed you want. Simply copy and paste the feed into the "Add subscription" bar in Google Reader, click add and you are now subscribed to that feed as well.
If you want to have Google News Alerts on a particular topic sent to your feed reader as well, that is also relatively simple. Merely search for the news topic you want using Google News and then right click on the RSS button in the left hand column of the results from your search and then click on "Copy Link Location" (see image below). Paste this into the "Add Subscription" bar and click add. This technique should work with any news aggregation service that offers RSS feeds, not just Google News.
Once you have added the feeds to your feed reader, you can go back to the reader at any time and see what sites have posted updated content. Every news article, every blog post from all the content providers you think are worth tracking gets automatically and seamlessly sent to one place where you can then read, delete, forward or file with ease.
That is enough for today. Tomorrow I will walk you through how to identify and automatically translate foreign blogs and websites and get them into Google Reader.