What is RSS?
You keep hearing this term around the Internet called RSS and you keep seeing this little weird symbol/icon everywhere you surf on the net -
A Sample of RSS Images
So What is RSS?
RSS = Really Simple Syndication; Rich Site Summary; RDF Site Summary
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There Are 4 RSS Format Types
The ATOM Syndication Format also known as ATOM Feed is another similar syndication format to RSS which basically can do the same thing.
“Push and Pull” Technology
Pushing – People often refer to RSS as “Push & Pull” a technology. This is because the RSS syndication format makes it very easy for end users to publish information to a website and instantly “push it” out across the digital divide to any number of other users who have subscribed.
Pulling - Conversely it makes it easy for individuals to quickly and directly receive precision information from any site that has RSS Feeds.
Why RSS? What Practical Problem Does It Solve?
The number of websites, blogs and locations that people are publishing content to has increased astonishingly over the last decade. No one person logistically has the time to visit hundereds or thousands of websites per day, yet individuals need to see and read content from these many different sites when new content is published.
Create a standardized web publishing format (RSS) for posting content to websites. The allow individuals to use a free (most of them are anyway) piece of smart software (RSS Aggregators) that will pull all of the content to the user from many websites (RSS locations) instantly into one interface, program, browser or widget (depending on the software).
What Does it Mean to “Subscribe” to RSS feeds?
When you subscribe you are in essence saying “hey the content or information here is something that I want sent directly to me” and that way I do not have to visit this website every time I want to view the new content or comments about that content. People often post the number of RSS subscribers to their sites, to give others an idea of how many other people think the content is worth receiving.
How Do I Subscribe to an RSS Feed?
Subscribing to an RSS feed is simple, but first you will need a feed reader or rss aggregator (a piece of software). Then follow these simple steps:
- Locate the icon (typically orange) on the website and click on it
- Copy or drag the URL/ link to your RSS reader or web based RSS service
- Typically the reader will confirm that you are now “subscribed”
To find out more about RSS Aggregators & the different types that exist read this sister piece I wrote called – What are RSS Aggregators and Feed Readers?
RSS in Plain English
OK if you do not understand any of the above jargon and information our social friends over at Common Craft have crafted the following video to help you conceptualize RSS.
Still lost in the social media jungle? Read this followup I wrote called Simple Ways of Thinking About RSS
Selected RSS Content
This article was last updated 2/1/2011