RSS Feeds Defined

Posted by: Birgitte  :  Category: Blogging How To's

In the high-tech world of the Internet there are often two ways to define something:

1. The geeky technical way: This is where I talk about all the cool, technological features , software platforms and updates, from version 0.00001 all the way to version 7.000098
2. The normal way: Where I tell you what something is and explain the benefits.

Today, I’ll tell you what RSS is….the normal way:

What do the letters RSS mean?

RSS can stand for:

a) Rich Site Summary
b) RDF Site Summary
c) Real Simple Syndication

Definition c) is what we’ll stick with for the rest of the article. You know you are dealing with RSS when you see something like the graphic above.

There are two types of sites that use RSS: blogs and news sites. Think of either one as online magazines. That big orange RSS button is like a magazine subscription card that you mail off to the publisher when you want to subscribe.

The only real difference between the two, besides the fact that one is glossy and hard and takes up space on your desk and the other is slick and current and only takes up space on your desktop, is that magazines most often involve parting with real money and RSS is always free.

When you click the orange button, the cyber mailman comes right to your computer.

So you go to your favorite blog and subscribe to it by clicking an RSS button similar to one above. Then what?Then the latest edition of the magazine or newscast flies through the ether from the publishing website to you. In the real world the latest magazine would be sent to your mailbox. On the Internet you can download a bit of free software known as a “feed reader” or “feed aggregator” (a great one is Google Reader) which acts as your free online mailbox and mailman…..only without the whole sneaking past your sleeping dog to drop stuff in your mailbox thing.

If you don’t want to download software, click on an RSS button like you see above and a subscription page will appear. Go ahead try it. Click here for the necessarywriters subscrption bar. By subscribing to a blog you can either bookmark it in your toolbar or have it come to your inbox as mail.  All free, remember.

What Happens When The Blog Publishes New Content?
Whenever the blog/news site publishes new content, the power of RSS technology sends the article straight to your feed-reading software or updates the link on your browser so you can automatically read it. You don’t have to go searching through blog posts to find the latest stuff. If the blog publishes two or ten articles that day you’ll receive two or ten new articles in your feed reader or updated on the browser link.

What If You Subscribe to More than One Blog or News Site?
Then, just like your mailbox, the reader or browser links will keep all the blogs and news sites sorted and ready until you have time to sit down and read them.

Now go play. After all, it’s free and you have nothing to lose. Just a lot of cool information to gain!

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2 Responses to “RSS Feeds Defined”

  1. Joy Says:

    Wow, I always wondered what that was for! I’m the Dork from NY, but you made it clean & concise.

  2. Birgitte Says:

    Twitter:
    Thank you, Joy! I’ll try to keep up with any RSS feed changes too. Or maybe I should have my teenagers do that? :)

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