Creating a Live Bookmark

You've seen how to create and modify bookmarks, but what would you think about a live bookmark that automatically updates to reflect the information on the associated website? There's a really slick technology called RSS (originally "Rich Site Summary" but now "Really Simple Syndication") that lets websites summarize information into a news feed containing a list of links to individual items. These links can be viewed as bookmarks in Firefox. This is more or less automatic: after you set up a live bookmark, Firefox takes care of everything.

In practice, this means you can set up a bookmark (it actually appears as a folder) for a website that supports RSS, and then every time you look at the bookmark, Firefox checks to see what the latest news and headlines are and displays them as bookmarks in the folder. You can click these bookmarks just like any other bookmarks, the difference being that they change whenever the information is updated on the website. (The website sets the number of bookmarks that appear and how often they're updated.)

What makes RSS so appealing is that it helps reduce the problem of information overload. Information is summarized and organized conveniently: you can check the headlines and other information updates without having to actually go to each website or listserv to check whether the information has been updated. Furthermore, you can just glance at the list of bookmarks and see what you want to look at without reading all the new articles. You're making the computer do most of the work for you, collecting information, and it's darned well about time it did!

Any information that you can break into discrete items can be syndicated using RSS. RSS is great for people who want to see the latest news, but there are many other applications of it, including:

  • "What's new?" information on a website that sees frequent updates

  • Blog news, headlines, and updates

  • New product reviews of a million different kinds

  • Event calendars

  • Job openings

  • Revision history for a document or a product

  • Software check-ins

Usually whenever a website has RSS capability, you see an RSS icon in the lower-right corner of the Firefox window (shown in Figure 5-10).

Figure 5-10. The RSS icon.

To set up a live bookmark, click the RSS icon. A small context menu appears, letting you subscribe to the RSS news feed. In some cases, a website has multiple news feeds to select from. Figure 5-11 shows two common RSS-enabled websites: offers a single RSS option, and offers three.

Figure 5-11. Sample RSS news feeds.

Click the news feed you want to subscribe to. The Add Bookmark screen (shown earlier, in Figure 5-2) appears. This time, however, you'll put this new bookmark in a folder for all your RSS bookmarks, so click the down arrow button to the far right of the Create in: field to display the current list of bookmarks. The Add Bookmark screen expands to look something like the one shown in Figure 5-12.

Figure 5-12. The expanded Add Bookmark screen.

There isn't a good folder set up yet for live bookmarks, so click New Folder to display the New Folder screen (shown earlier in Figure 5-7). Go through the procedure for adding a new folder. Figure 5-13 shows the Add Bookmark screen after you add a folder for your live bookmarks. Double-click the Live Bookmarks folder to add the live bookmark to the Live Bookmarks folder.

Figure 5-13. The Add Bookmark screen with a new folder added.

After the live bookmark has been added to Firefox, it updates automatically whenever you look at it in the bookmarks list. (Depending on your connection, this may take a moment.) Figure 5-14 shows a selection of live bookmarks.

Figure 5-14. The Bookmarks list with a selection of live bookmarks added.

RSS news feeds will continue to grow in popularity because they operate on the thing that people value most: time. Grab a few RSS feeds and give 'em a try!

TOOL KIT: Share Your Brilliance with the Rest of the World

You can share the results of your research in an areaor, oh, heck, you can just promote your own coolness to everyone else!through a bookmark-sharing website.

The website (yup, that's "delicious") describes itself as a "social bookmarks manager." You can download a bookmarklet from the website to add to Firefox. When you see a website you want to share with other people, you click the bookmarklet and enter information in the accompanying screen. You can group links, title them, and post additional information about them.

The interesting part of all this is that you can also see the links that everyone else has posted. has just about every category for links you can think of, and you can always break new ground. Not surprisingly, it has numerous RSS links so that you can keep track of the links and link categories you're most interested in.

    Firefox and Thunderbird Garage (Garage Series)
    Firefox and Thunderbird Garage
    ISBN: 0131870041
    EAN: 2147483647
    Year: 2003
    Pages: 185

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