Saturday, April 12, 2008

What is Really Simple Syndication?

"What interests me about Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is the ability to begin to monitor the flow of new information on the net. We all know what sites exist; what we really want to know is how often sites generate new information…” (Webreference, 2003)

According to Webreference, RSS is a lightweight XML (general format, a set of HTML-like tags) format designed for sharing headlines and other Web content. (Webreference, 2003) Really Simple Syndication or also known as Rich Summary Site (RSS), is basically a mini database that contains headlines and descriptions of what is new on your favorite websites and is a great tool for managing additional traffic to your site from repeat visitors. In addition, RSS is a useful tool to gather and distribute news. (Webreference, 2003) RSS can also be the basis for additional content distribution services. (Webreference, 2003) RSS has evolved into a popular means of sharing content between sites, such as CNN, Forbes and more. Since March 1999, RSS formats have continued to evolve. In 2005/2006, the RSS icon below first gained widespread use. (RSS, 2008)
Today, there are many more icons that identify RSS content. Some examples are listed below. Also, for a concise guide about RSS, including what it is all about, the numerous RSS icons, and how it works, visit: . This guide is for beginners who are not familiar with RSS and want to learn more about it. (About RSS Guide, 2008)

By using RSS you save time from having to search the Internet on topics or items that may be of interest to you. For example, you can receive news updates, updates on music for iTunes, get notified on items that you are waiting for on E-bay, track your favorite football team (Go Steelers!) and much more. In addition, RSS data can flow into other products and services, such as PDA's, cell phones, email ticklers and even voice updates. Even Email newsletters can easily be automated with RSS. (Webreference, 2003)

There are new ways to use RSS feeds almost everyday and in most cases goes beyond blogs and news. (Rubel, 2006) Steve Rubel from Micro Persuasion shares 35 Ways You Can Use RSS Today, to view go to: (Rubel, 2006) After visiting this site, I was surprised to learn how many topics were out there on RSS.

One useful tool when using RSS is an aggregator. According to Wikipedia, an aggregator reduces the time and effort needed to regularly check websites for updates, creating a unique information space or "personal newspaper." (Aggregator, 2008) Also, an aggregator is able to check for new content determined by the user, and retrieve the update, once a user is subscribed to a feed. This example is sometimes described as being "pulled" to the subscriber, as opposed to "pushed” with email or Instant Message (IM). Compare to recipients of some "pushed" information, the great function for the aggregator user is that one can easily unsubscribe from a feed, which allows the use of RSS to be a pleasant experience. (Wikipedia, 2008) In general, a web syndication refers to making webfeeds available from a site in order to provide other people with a summary of the website's recently added content, such as the latest news or forum posts.

For helpful tips on RSS, Youtube has a sketchcasting video by Richard Ziade called RSS for the Masses, that provides extensive detailed information on RSS visit: . (Ziade, 2007) Or for a short explanation video with the basic introduction on RSS, visit RSS in Plain English by Lee LeFever from Common Craft at . (LeFever, 2007)

After completing my research, I was ready to explore RSS. First, I selected a reader, I chose to use Google as my aggregator (feed reader), since I have a Gmail account with ASU, it was convenient. Second, I decided to set up my connection by subscribing to favorite sites by using the RSS icon. For some of my favorite sites, I subscribed to a feed by entering the feed's link into a reader or by clicking an RSS icon in the browser that initiated the subscription process. I subscribed for discounts on scrap booking supplies, latest information on health and all about pugs. Third, I checked my emails for my favorite articles to arrive. The process was not difficult, as I thought it would be in the beginning. RSS is a great concept. I wished I knew about it sooner. It’s simple, basically sign up for a reader and subscribe to your favorite sites to utilize RSS. The videos above were very helpful and provided me with information step-by-step on how to setup a Google reader account. To set up a Google reader account, visit

By completing this assignment, I learned what an RSS reader or an aggregator (feed reader) can be used to populate some of my desired content sites and not just for news. Many types of information can be formatted and syndicated through an RSS. The option to make any changes or stop subscription at any time is available. In addition, I learned to identify the common icons used for RSS. Since there are so many demands on my time (work, family and school assignments), I discovered that RSS can be a new way to save time while receiving my favorite updates on topics that interest me.

Works Cited

About RSS Guide. (2008) A MiniGuide by ZeldersÂș. Retrieved on April 12, 2008, from

Aggregator. (2008, April) Wikipedia. Retrieved on April 11, 2008, from

LeFever, Lee. (2007, April) Youtube. RSS in Plain English. Retrieved on April 10, 2008, from

Introduction to RSS. (2003, April) Webreference. Retrieved on April 11, 2008, from

Rubel, Steve. (2006, June) Micro Persuasion. 35 Ways You Can Use RSS Today. Retrieved on April 11, 2008, from

RSS icon. (2008) Data Mouse.Biz. Retrieved on April 11, 2008, from

RSS. (2008, April) Wikipedia. Retrieved on April 10, 2008, from

Ziade, Richard. (2007, October) Youtube. RSS for the Masses. Retrieved on April 11, 2008, from


Cole said...

Great post! Hard to believe you went from RSS newbie to helpful expert so quickly.
I'm sold.

Pam's Cyber Cafe said...

Very imformative post, I like how you included the variety of RSS images, it also breaks up the text of your blog. I must admit, I look for the little, orange RSS icon on all the websites that I visit. Now, I know that I can subscribe --more importantly, what subscribing means :)

Keep up the good work Maribel!

daelphium said...

Definitely the most comprehensive post this week! Very informative. The miniguide you provided was very succinct and helpful, and I really liked the information that you provided about some of RSS's emerging uses between news sites and whatnot. Great work!

Marcy said...

Good blog on RSS. I also found Steve Rubel's 35 ways to use RSS helpful but I'm little disappointed th hear you root for the "Steelers!" Just kidding. That is the beauty everyone can recieve the information they want. This will definitely save us busy students time and let us sort through only the information that is most important.

afriendtoall said...

Hi, Maribel
A very informative and enjoyable post. I especially enjoyed your RSS emblems and the guide which you provided. Great job!