What is RSS?
The short answer is that RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It’s a form of XML and is referred to as a ‘push’ technology in that it pushes content to a location automatically when the content changes.
Where is RSS?
RSS is all around you online. In fact, you may already be using RSS. A recent study suggested 31% of users online are using RSS, 27% without realizing it. If you are using a customize Google page (www.google.com/ig) or MyYahoo! (my.yahoo.com) you are, in fact, using RSS to read your custom news on those pages.
RSS delivers news from sites like MSNBC, CNN, Google News, Yahoo! News, Slashdot, Digg and literally thousands of other news sites.
RSS delivers podcasts and vidcasts as well. If you are using podcatchers like iTunes or Odeo to subscribe to and listen to podcasts, then you are using RSS to receive those podcsats.
RSS delivers information, be it textual, audio or video to you, without your having to do anything more than your initial subscription.
Why Use RSS?
Convenience and Security are the most often cited reasons for using RSS.
Convenience – Because RSS delivers only the news feeds that you choose to read, it’s like having a secretary who knows which newspapers you like to read and which subjects are of interest to you, compile and prepare your newspapers with only what you want to read, updated hourly in the format that you desire (ie headlines only, headlines+synopsis or full articles).
Security – RSS delivery alleviates the possibility of spam. Because the RSS publisher never actually sees the email address of their subscribers, there is no chance of them contacting the subscribers to push promotional material or attempt to sell them products.
The beauty of RSS is that it is ‘one-click’ to subscribe and, the flip side is that it is also ‘one-click’ to unsubscribe. This puts a real pressure on the publisher to keep the readers’ value in mind with every post or article. For the reader, this is great.
RSS Aggregators and RSS Readers
To read blogs and news feeds the way there were intended to be read, you’ll need to use a RSS aggregator (or RSS feed reader). An aggregator takes all your feeds, aggregates them into one place and outputs the feeds in a user-friendly, easy to read format and displays that content as you choose during the set up of each feed.
Your first job would be to look at the different aggregators and choose which one is best for you. Some of my favorites are below.
Then you’d follow the easy to understand directions for that particular reader. The thing to realize is that you’ll be taking the url (web address) of the feed and entering it into the place within the aggregator that is designed to add feeds. If it is confusing at all, follow the Help feature in your feed reader. You can also find success by using the contact form found on most feed readers’ websites and asking for one-on-one help. In my experience the people who run these companies understand that the learning curve is steep for new users and they are very willing to help you understand the steps to adding your first feeds.
Of course, if you choose a popular feed reader like MyYahoo!, Bloglines, Newsgator or others the process is even simpler. If you’ve seen the little buttons on some sites that say ‘add to MyYahoo!’ or ‘add to Bloglines’, etc. you can just push the button and subscribe much easier.
Eventually, the process will become much smoother, I think, especially as RSS usage grows and grows. The next year will see rapid growth in RSS usage.
Some Great Blogs/News Sites That Offer RSS Feeds
CNN World News RSS Feed Slashdot
Tech News RSS Feed Practical Blogging
Web 2.0 RSS Feed Problogger
Blogging RSS Feed The RSS Blog
RSS News RSS Feed Podcast Roundtable
Podcast Collaboration RSS Feed Podcast Publishing
Podcast Services RSS Feed Games Industry Wire
Video Games RSS Feed Thrifty Mommy
Thrifty Parenting RSS Feed Digg Tech News RSS Feed Associated Content
General Articles RSS Feed Consolidated Credit
Credit News RSS Feed Coupon Codes Online Coupon Listing RSS Feed Podblogging
Web 2.0 Podcasts RSS Feed Balanced Diet South Beach and The Zone Recipes RSS Feed