I find myself often trying to explain the merits of using RSS to filter and keep up with the internet. The web is pretty overwhelming otherwise. Basically RSS is a format or “feed” that allows a user to subscribe to various webpages and then allows the user to read updates on a webpage through a central reader. My personal favorite RSS reader is Bloglines.
There is a page that tries to explain RSS on About.com. It is laughably complicated for a “netforbeginners” section, but you might like it if you’d like to read more. Unfortunately, if you do a search on Google for “What is RSS” you’ll get a whole lot of results showing technical pages that explain how web designers can publish an RSS feed.
Anyway, for those in the medical profession, one of the great uses of RSS feeds is that you can set up PubMed to create a custom feed of any search you like, and then have the feeds update whenever a new academic paper gets published within that search. David Rothman at http://davidrothman.net/, has an excellent entry that takes you step by step through how to set up a PubMed feed using Bloglines. Hopefully, those of us in the medical academics will be better able to keep up with the overwhelming research that occurs around the world.