Those of you who read blogs on a regular basis should be familiar with the term RSS — for those of you who aren’t, RSS is simply a type of computer code that takes the “headlines” on a website and aggregates them for easy distribution to individuals or other websites. To read these aggregated headlines, you would need to use a “newsreader” program such as NewzCrawler or AmphetaDesk (there are many others; if you’re interested, here’s a great article on news readers. RSS and news readers allow the “news to come to you,” and you save time surfing all those websites.

Currently the average legal researcher probably doesn’t get very excited when he or she hears about RSS or newsreaders. But as more and more sites take advantage of this technology, researchers will have to take notice. I became aware of two such sites yesterday. First, Steven Cohen of Library Stuff found an RSS feed for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. If you go to the site, you won’t automatically find the RSS feed; you’ll have to go to Syndic8, an RSS feed site, to get it. If you had a newsreader and this RSS feed, each day you would receive, with a click of a button, all of the news from this site delivered straight to you.

Okay, so maybe access to Florida law enforcement news isn’t enough to get you pumped up. How about access to MedScape? The excellent health information site has raised the bar by providing RSS feeds on 32 different medical topics, including cardiology, family medicine, orthopedics, pediatrics, psychiatry and mental health, and others. Or subscribe to all the RSS feeds and get new articles in each topic. What a terrific (although not unexpected) use of this technology. (Via The Shifted Librarian)

If you want to learn more about RSS feeds and how to get/read them, drop me an e-mail or post a comment here.