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:
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: Slashdot.com offers a single RSS option, and mozilla.org 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!