Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed something new at Slate. Next to “Print,” “E-mail,” “Discuss,” and “Alerts”—in between “Newsletters” and “Help,” actually—we’ve added a button to Slate’s toolbar, the maroon band at the top of each page. It says, “RSS.” To the many readers who have been asking for this, subscribe away. The URL for Slate’s RSS feed is http://www.slate.com/rss/. The rest of you are surely thinking, “What is RSS?”
It stands for “Really Simple Syndication,” and it’s a way for any Web site to push its most recent content to readers who sign up for the service. Think of it as yet another way to read Slate. You can read Slate in your Web browser, you can print it onto paper, you can sign up for e-mail newsletters or instant-messenger alerts of the latest stories, and now you can receive Slate via RSS. Many news sites and popular bloggers provide RSS feeds to help keep even the junkiest of news junkies satisfied.
To subscribe to Slate’s feed, you’ll need to install a piece of software called an RSS aggregator. Slate’s Webhead columnist Paul Boutin recommends a program called SharpReader for PC users. Personally, I use RSS Bandit. Most of these programs resemble Microsoft Outlook, and new items appear in a list, like new e-mails. Once you’ve installed an RSS aggregator, also known as an RSS reader, you can subscribe to the RSS feeds from your favorite sites. (Looking at a picture helps to understand how an RSS reader works. Click here to see a screenshot of one on Boutin’s Web site.)
Once you’ve signed up for a feed, the latest content from that Web site—whether it’s the New York Times or your favorite blog—will get sent to your RSS reader. You won’t need to use your browser anymore to surf from site to site to keep up with the latest news and opinion. And if you’re a blogger, some RSS aggregators will work with your blogging software and allow you to display links to the latest Slate content on your own blog.
If you’re a Slate reader who’s brand-new to RSS, here’s a good place to start: Boutin compiled the RSS feeds for some of his favorite reads—everything from Slate to the “Today’s Papers” newspapers to some major blogs—on this page. Just right-click on the link, save it to your desktop, then import the file to your RSS reader. To do that in SharpReader, click File, then Import Subscriptions. In RSS Bandit, click File, then Import Feeds.
If you find yourself clicking to the Slate home page several times a day looking for our latest articles, you’ll probably find it useful to subscribe to our RSS feed, so you’ll be able to stay up-to-the-minute with Slate.