Friday, January 18, 2013

What are RSS feeds and Why Should We Care?

RSS is an abbreviation for Really Simple Syndication, Real-Time Simple Syndication, or   Rich Site Summary and was invented in 1995. 

RSS brings the best of the websites to you. Think of RSS like your own personal assistant – all you have to do is press a little orange square button that you are interested in. Next, RSS will automatically keep track of all your favorite websites.

Many websites offer RSS feeds or sometime called web feeds, which you can subscribe so that you are notified when new content appears in chronological order. To subscribe, you will need RSS reader software, which looks like an email inbox and some even offer pop-up notifications.

Most RSS feeds keep a running list of the latest content items posted to a site. Each item in the feed includes a headline and often a summary that corresponds to a new piece of content on the website. Some venues offer their full content (complete articles) via RSS feed instead of just headlines and summaries. There are many other options to web feed content, too.

What are the main advantages? RSS feeds save your time by looking through a web feed much quicker than you can browse a web site. You can maintain a list of several RSS feeds from your favorites sites. In other words, if (like most people) you have limited time for web browsing, you can check your feed reader to quickly learn what your favorites sites offer, and go straight to the items that interest you most. Lastly, RSS feeds are definitely SPAM-PROOF and because you have not handed over your email address or other personal details. You can unsubscribe from an RSS feed at anytime. Is that cool?

A list of popular online, desktop, and mobile RSS feed readers available below:
  • Yahoo! Pipes for Yahoo! email account users.
  • Google Reader for Google email accounts.
  • FeedDemon 4.1 for Windows users.
  • NetNewsWire for Mac/iPhone/iPad users.
  • Pulse for iPhone/iPad/Android/Kindle users.
  • NewsGator for Apps users.

Additionally, RSS makes it a great way to discover when new blog post cartoons, podcasts or online video clips. Social media services such as Facebook and Twitter offer RSS feeds making RSS handy for keeping track of your friends. The truth is no single company owns RSS and it does not have a central point of failure, so it is impossible to be bought or sold, shut down, blocked or used as a pawn by politicians or big companies. Facebook and Twitter play a similar role to RSS but when social media services rise and fall - RSS lives on. 

Do you agree? Will Facebook and Twitter kill RSS in the future? What are your thoughts?


Gahran, Amy.  “What are webfeeds (RSS), and why should you need them?” 4 May 2004. WordPress. 16 Jan. 2013
Turner, Adam. “Keep it Really Simple, stupid.” The Age. 15 Sept. 2011 Web. 17 Jan. 2013