What is RSS?
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. RSS provides a quick and easy way of being alerted to and taking you directly to new information published on a website. This is done through 'feeds' that users subscribe to providing a summarised text and direct link back to the updated web page.
Through using an aggregator or 'feedreader' you are able to subscribe to several feeds from different websites. A feedreader is simply software that checks the subscribed feed's website regularly, downloading any new work published, and provides a place to monitor and read the feeds.
There are free feedreaders available for Mac (Newsfire and NetNewsWire for example) and PC (FeedDemon and Omea Reader for example) users.
There are also web applications for reading feeds that save you the time of having to download specific software to do so. The latest versions of Internet Explorer have an in-built RSS feed reader, with its RSS icon in the command bar showing when a page has an RSS feed available. Mozilla Firefox also has an in-built feature called Live Bookmarks, which discovers a feed associated with the web page you are visiting and displays an orange icon automatically in the location bar. Google Reader works in most modern web browsers and has a built-in public page to easily share interesting items with your friends and family.
Websites with feeds available to subscribe to can be identified by the orange RSS feed icon which appears at the top of the page or next to text. To subscribe you simply need to click on the feed and copy the link into your feedreader or web application.
Benefits of RSS
- RSS feeds allow you to subscribe to the content that you want to receive
- It eliminates the need to check for updates on a website and saves you having to bookmark pages. Changes to the page come to you
- It allows you to search and scan information easily
- Content you subscribe to is compiled into one digest that includes all of the headlines, allowing you to skim to find the content that you are interested in reading
- If your interests change you can remove or add feeds