Saturday, June 17, 2006

Layman's Intro to RSS

An RSS (Really Simple Syndication, or Rich Site Summary) feed is [free] syndicated news, blog or other content that anyone can access and use. It's based on the XML standard. There are also similar forms, such as Atom. A typical feed URL looks like www.domain.com/feedname.xml (also, /feedname.rss, /rss.xml, /atom.xml, or /feedname.rdf). My feed URL is www.danielmonday.com/atom.xml.

To read numerous RSS feeds without scouring the Internet for each feed, you can use a feed aggregator. A feed aggregator does exactly what it implies, it gathers and aggregates multiple RSS feeds into one location for easy viewing and so forth. There are a ton of aggregators. Google has their own called Google Reader, and you can use Google's Personalized Home page, as well. I have an account with Bloglines that does the same thing. Other notable aggregators that come to mind, both downloadable and web-based, are NewsGator, My Yahoo! and Rojo.

So I can bring up one website or program and quickly scan the articles, blog entries and news from as many different websites as I want. Instead of individually going to www.nytimes.com, www.cnn.com, www.micropersuasion.com (a favorite of mine), www.fastcompany.com, etc., and trying to sort through their websites for current articles, I can go to www.google.com/ig, or www.bloglines.com, and view all of them in one place!

Its popularity is currently skyrocketing, and for good reason. Add RSS feeds and feed aggregators to the abundance of opt-in email newsletters, and you have personalized, targeted news and web content delivered directly to you for access when you want it.

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