RSS is a Web feed format used to “publish” frequently updated content such as blog entries or comments to subscribers. It is a standardized format that allows publishers to syndicate or “push” out content quickly and automatically.
RSS feeds are read using software called an “RSS reader,” or “feed reader.” This software normally runs in a web browser. Newer browser are beginning to build RSS awareness and functionality directly into the browser. Users can subscribe to a feed by entering the feed’s link into the reader or by clicking an RSS icon in a browser that initiates the subscription process. Customized home pages such as My Yahoo and My Google contain RSS functionality built into the page.
Why would I want to use this? A reasonable enoiugh question. The answer will vary with the type of content being syndicated. The short answer is that syndication can save you time from having to check multiple sites to see if new articles, posts, podcast or other information is available.
Using an RSS feed from your favorite sites allows you to just check one site to see if there are updates or anything new available. For example say you want to check several different news sites (CNN, ABC, MSNBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, CBS) on a regular basis. By setting up a news reader and an RSS subscription to each you can now view the latest headlines for all of the sites (or specific sections such as business, national news, world news, Op-Ed) by going to just one web page, your RSS Reader.
There is an excellent, short, You Tube video “RSS In Plain English” from a company called CommonCraft that explains RSS feeds very well.