We live in a marvelous age where information from all around the world is available to us with the click of a mouse. Have you ever wondered how genealogists keep up with all the new databases and technologies that are available? One of the keys lies in three little letters: RSS.
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. Still puzzled? In simple everyday terms this is a way you can receive up to date information from your favorite websites and blogs. Have you ever seen among your internet browser icons a little orange button with what looks like a white dot in the lower left hand corner and sound waves emanating from it going up and to the right? This is an RSS icon and when it’s available on the web page you’re looking it you can click on it and instantly see what is new to that page.
Another way to use the RSS to your advantage is to set up an RSS reader in your web mail account. Many web mail providers such as Google and Yahoo offer you the option to receive updates when something new is added to blogs or websites of your choosing. You may also choose to receive news alerts when a search term you are interested appears in news articles on the Internet. For instance, I regularly receive notifications whenever the word “genealogy” appears in articles or blogs. This helps me to know what’s going on out there in the wide world of genealogy.
You can also use news alerts for items of interest about your surname or the locality you are researching. A word of caution however, if you have a really common surname you might want to add the words “AND” and ”Genealogy” to avoid receiving a flood of information that doesn’t really have any bearing on your family history!