Or, "what is that 'XML' button?"
When you see one of these icons -- or -- it means that you can sign up to get the latest news and information from that web site. This is done with something called a "feed," and it can help you tame the overload of information on the web.
Why would I want to do that?
There are a number of reasons you might want to subscribe to a feed:
You want to be alerted when something has been added to a site, but you don't want to visit it every day.
You want to be able to browse a simple listing of titles, and only read the things that interest you.
You want to have a single place on the web where information comes to you, rather than having to go out and browse for it.
You need to keep on top of many active sites, but visiting all of them regularly has become a chore.
Who offers feeds?
How do I subscribe to a feed?
Subscribing to a feed is not like subscribing to a magazine or email newsletter, because you don't need to get anyone's permission or pay a fee. You can usually do it in just a couple of clicks, and you can unsubscribe whenever you want.
There are several tools that you can use to recieve the latest information from a site. Here are some of the most popular ways:
- If you have a My Yahoo or some other personalized home page, you can add the feed to it. The latest entries to the feed will then appear on your home page.
- If you use the Firefox browser, you can add a feed as a Live Bookmark.
- A live bookmark automatically gets the feed's latest entries and puts them in your bookmarks or your bookmark bar.
- Just click on the orange icon (in Firefox 1.5 it's next to the page URL; in Firefox 1.0 it's in the lower-right corner of the window) to create a Live Bookmark.
- If you put it in your Bookmarks toolbar, it will show up as a menu with the latest entries.
- More information on Firefox Live Bookmarks
- If you use the Safari browser, you can read the feed by clicking the blue "RSS" button in the URL area. (RSS is one technical term for a feed.)
- If you bookmark the feed, Safari will keep track of the feed and tell you how many new items have been added.
- More information on Safari's RSS features
- You can download a Newsreader and use it to subscribe to and read feeds.
- Newsreaders are separate from your browser, and they often have nice features specifically for browsing feeds -- like showing you which items you have read.
- Typically, you need to copy the URL of the feed and paste it into your newsreader.
- There are hundreds of newsreaders. Popular Mac newsreaders are NetNewsWire and NewsFire; popular PC newsreaders are FeedDemon and NewzCrawler.
- You can set up an online news service for yourself.
- This is like a newsreader, but because it is part of a website, you can access it from anywhere.
- One popular news service is Bloglines.
Don't worry. Feeds are a new concept that is only gradually taking root on the web. You can contact the Web Services Group if you have any questions about this service.
Not finding a feed you want?
Is there some information on Carleton's website that you would like to subscribe to, but you don't see a feed icon? Please contact the Web Services Group and we'll see if we can help.