Wednesday, November 07, 2007

What's the deal with RSS?

Okay, if you've surfed the Internet a little bit, you've probably seen something called an RSS link or feed. Or maybe you've seen the universal logo for RSS feeds which looks like this:

So what the heck is RSS? It stands for "really simple syndication," and it's the World Wide Web's version of your mailbox.

Being the technology geek that I am, I used to spend a lot of time surfing all the different Church Web sites and blogs to see what people were talking about. So for example, I'd boot up my laptop, start up my Web browser, open up my bookmarks, and click on each of these Web sites:

After clicking on each of those sites, I'd scroll around to see if there was anything new. Sometimes there was. Most times there wasn't. But I'd still have to spend quite some time going to each site just to find out.

Then...I'd go check out the fun sites to see what they were talking about. So then I'd open my bookmarks again and click on each of these sites:

There were also the tech and business blogs I like to read:

Whew! By the time I finished opening up the last site, I had spent way too much time and gotten too little information out of the entire process. And if your computer is slow like mine, trying to stay up to date just about makes you want to crawl back into bed.

THEN, I discovered the power of RSS. (The video below explains RSS and how to use it.) I tried several different news readers and landed on That's pretty much the only site I open now to read all of the Web sites listed above. Plus I also get a bunch of other information that I arrange, like the local weather, the latest New York Times crossword, and todo lists that I can access anywhere there's a computer and an Internet connection. Now my daily routine of checking to see what's new on 20 or so different Web sites is down to mere minutes.

One of the neat things about RSS readers is that you can share your "feeds" with others. For example, here's my netvibes page with all my Church Web sites feeds:

Add to Netvibes

If you click on the netvibes button above, you can see my Church page that shows me (and now you) all the newest articles on all my favorite Church Web sites. Because this page also shows me if I've read a particular article or not, I can see right away what's new to me and what's old news. After you click the button above, a new page will open. Go ahead and click on "Yes, preview it." Then you'll see my entire page. If you like it and want to try netvibes and sign up for a free account, just click on "Add it to my page."

Why should liturgy people care? Because we have to care about communication. Communication was God's first act: God spoke. We need to be listening. What are people outside of our own social circles saying? What are people outside of the Church saying? What are the 20 and 30 somethings saying? And where are they saying it. One place, I would argue, is right here on the Internet. People in love with the Church and the liturgy and the principles of full, conscious, and activie participation in all of life need to be on the Internet, communicating and listening. If we don't do it, others with more extreme, louder voices will--they already are.

So try it out. Don't be afraid. Once you've chosen a feed reader, like netvibes or any of the ones listed in the video below, you can add this blog to it just by clicking on the bright orange RSS logo in the sidebar. And here's that great little video explaining all this in a much more interesting way.

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