Whether you are a brand new visitor to the Let’s Dish! blog, Food for Thought,¬†or an¬†everyday reader, we thought you might like a little overview on how this whole blog world works.¬† We know we needed it!¬† So, read¬†today’s “Dish On”¬†our blog and RSS, and please add any questions you have to the comments.¬† (I will probably¬†need to ask someone else for the answer, but promise I’ll find the right information for ‘ya!¬† )
¬†Blogs and Bloggers
OK, let’s start with the basics. It took me about a year before I could work up the courage to ask, “Ummm…What does blog mean?”¬† Aha! ¬†I was informed that it derives from “web log” – now shortened to “blog.” Very helpful!
That makes sense. Much like a “log” with short entries in chronological order, a blog is a website where people provide commentary or news on a particular subject. Some blogs act more as a personal journal or online diary. Professionals might use a blog to pass along their expertise. So, you guessed it, a “blogger” is a person who writes blog entries.
That’s it! “Blog” demystified – you can now talk to your kids about them!
Now that you know what a blog is, you’ll probably notice these little brightly-colored icons that usually surround a blog post. For example, have you ever seen this icon: ?¬† It sometimes has the acronym RSS next to it. What does that mean? Really Silly Stories? No, it’s actually Really Simple Syndication.
According to my favorite online encyclopedia, “An RSS document, which is called a ‘feed’, ‘web feed’, or ‘channel’, contains either a summary of content from an associated web site or the full text. RSS makes it possible for people to keep up with their favorite web sites in an automated manner that’s easier than checking them manually.”
So, when you see that little RSS icon ¬†next to content on a web site, it means the authors of the content have provided an easy way for you to access similar content. If you click on that RSS icon, you’ll typically be prompted with a couple of different ways to access the content.
Let’s Dish!¬†offers, for example, the option to¬†subscribe to¬†the Food¬†for Thought¬†feed via email¬†to receive similar content in your inbox each day.¬† This is probably the most convenient if you aren’t surfing the web everyday as it comes¬†right to you. ¬† [If you're reading this on the Food for Thought blog page, you can¬†just enter your email¬†in the right-hand¬†sidebar to subscribe.]
RSS Readers on the Web
If you’d prefer to visit a web site to access the content (as opposed to reading it in your email), you can subscribe to the feed via browser. There are thousands of RSS-enabled readers on the web. My favorites are customized “home” pages offered by companies like Yahoo!, Google, and AOL. These personalized pages allow you to access local news and weather, and whatever other content you prefer to read, all on one page. Here are a few links to get you started:
- – if you have a customized Yahoo! page, you can add syndicated content, such as our own Food for Thought blog posts, so they’ll appear right there on your Yahoo! page among all the other news and weather content you check each day.
- – maybe you use Google instead… no problem! You can easily add syndicated content to your Google page as well.
- – for folks who have personalized AOL pages, you’ll use this link to add the RSS feed to your pages.
If you have a RSS-news-reader home somewhere else, you can subscribe to Food for Thought via additional web-based readers.¬† I stand in awe of you as I just barely got my feed added to My Yahoo! page when we began.¬†¬†
If you don’t use a personalized page like those I just mentioned, perhaps you might like to maintain an online list of bookmarks that can be accessed from any computer on the Internet. You can also share these bookmarks with your friends to suggest content they might like to read.
Companies who offer free online bookmarking tools include Del.icio.us, StumbleUpon, Google Bookmarks, Digg, Furl, Yahoo! Bookmarks, and Technorati. Another nice feature of most of these tools is that they rank content by popularity. So the more often someone “Diggs” a blog post or news article, the higher it displays on Digg.com.
While all these pretty icons can seem to do little more than add clutter, they are very useful to anyone who frequently accesses and shares online content.
We’ve added some of the most popular tools and services to our Let’s Dish! blog through a little button at the bottom of each post that says Food for Thought post with your friends and family..¬† The¬†little rotating choices show you some of your options¬†and a pop up then lets you then¬†bookmark the page using one of these online bookmarking tools.¬† If you’re so inclined – and we really hope you are – ¬†please bookmark and share your favorite
I hope all of this was helpful.¬† If you ever need to come back to this post, you can find it in our “The Dish On…” Category or as a link on our How to Subscribe page.¬†¬†Good luck in the blogosphere (ok, that’s a bit too much even for me)!