Having had a recent question regarding the use of RSS feeds to keep abreast of legal news (particularly new cases in CanLII), it occurred to me that this would be a great idea for practical blog post (cue the proverbial “eureka!” lightbulb above my head).
RSS (or “Rich Site Summary”), is essentially a summary of the contents of a web page which can be read by an aggregator (aka feed reader) to create customized feeds of information that the end user can use to follow and read about whatever it is that they’re interested in without having to bounce around from site to site – kind of like a Facebook or Twitter for real news. For the voracious consumer of information, it is tremendously beneficial to have this efficiency at hand.
The first thing that you’ll need is something to actually read the feed with. In an earlier draft of this post, I was going to recommend Google Reader. However, yesterday (March 13) it was announced that Google is shutting the service down, which sent me back to the drawing board. Fortunately, CNET has a list of worthy alternatives, so take your pick! They will all ultimately do the same thing, so it just shakes down to a personal preference as to what works best for you.
After you have a reader, the possibilities for what you do with it are endless. Many, many web sites have the ability to create feeds from their content, which you can then plug into your reader to have a personalized news feed.
For example, in CanLII, when you get the search results, the RSS icon (which, by the way, is in the image above) is at the top of the page. When it is clicked on, you will get the raw code. Copy and paste the URL into your reader, and presto! It gives a feed of all of the most recent additions using that search term, which will be updated every time you check. This is a great feature to get a continuous updates in a specific field of interest when new cases that fit the criteria of your search are added.
The huge appeal is in the infinite customization possibilities, so no two personalized feeds should look the same. Have some fun with it!