Sunday, June 22, 2008

RSS Feeds: What Are They & How Can They Benefit Me?

What is RSS?
RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, is an XML-based format for content distribution on the Internet. RSS Feeds (similar to a bookmark in a web browser) are often indicated by links that say "RSS," "Syndicate this site" or a square orange button with the text "RSS" or "XML" within it. RSS Feeds are commonly used on weblogs (blogs), news Web sites and other places with frequently freshened content. They are a great way for Internet users to receive recently updated online articles or news content -- without having to search for it.

How Does RSS Work?
When new content has been posted or updated on a site, the RSS reader (AKA an aggregator) keeps track of the changes and delivers them to you. The aggregator "pulls" content to the user every time a specified page is updated and allows the user to view all the new content in one location. RSS feeds are most often attached to text, images, podcasts and video, but they can be used with any document (word processing and spreadsheets) that has content that changes.

How Do I Access a RSS?
There are many free, web-based readers, all which compile and update feeds, all which allow anonymous access to their feeds from any computer with Internet access. For heavier users, there are desktop, application-based readers that offer more features. You can access RSS feeds on mobiles device and many cell phones or via e-mail as well as on a computer.

What Are the Benefits?
One of the main benefits is the ability to eliminate the time it takes to find information you want on the Internet. Every time something changes on the page, it comes to you through the RSS Feed. On
e of the original uses for RSS is the ability to create a personal newspaper with new content updated every morning. For example, if you always read the front page of Atlanta Journal Constitution, the RSS eliminates the need to check for updates.

Some other examples of its use include: organizing information about a particular topic; tracking packages; finding cheap airfares; searching for jobs; receiving software updates; etc. All without surfing through pop-up ads, slow downloads and poorly navigated sites. RSS saves time. It’s as simple as that. Using RSS you can subscribe to this blog.

Sarah Mackley

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