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What’s up with RSS?

Posted by James M. Helms on June 30, 2007

If you are like me, tech challenged, then RSS kind of snuck up and just appeared one day. Recently I was frustrated with my lack of understanding so I decided to do a little snooping. RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” which at face value is pretty ridiculous. If you have seen my website it may be apparent that I can barely script html and CSS, much less learn more acronyms. So, I want to cut to the chase and make it a little simpler for you and me both. After a couple hours of work I pretty much picked up the basics. I will write them down so if I forget I can come back and read about it in the future.

RSS feeds are a tool that we can use. If we compile the feeds in an aggregator the aggregator allows us to receive feed updates on a periodic basis. How does it work? I don’t have a clue; I guess it’s like magic. To make things simple lets just say that RSS allows content to magically appear in an aggregator. Matter of fact lets just call the aggregator a “feed reader” it just reads and displays the feeds that we tell it to. Feed readers are platforms like My Yahoo or Google Reader, the information from the feeds update occasionally without any action on our part. Where can we get feed readers? Just type “feed reader” into Google and there will be about a few million links to check out. After selecting the feed reader that is wanted just customize the page. From the aggregators that I have checked out they all have really simple directions to do so.

For the greater part of my time looking into RSS I was trying to set up an RSS subscription on my blog. If you have a blog and want to set up an RSS feed you can do so easily by going to FeedBurner which was recently purchased by Google. FeedBurner has a free basic service. There are options to buy souped up versions with analytics and extra features. My RSS was simple and free to set up on my blog. I also pasted icons to subscribe to my feed on my website using the “Chicklet Chooser” option.

I personally don’t have a feed reader unless you count the SplashCast slide show. It’s a great tool if you want to use it. I have just never found an application for it yet. I guess I am just more interested in doing other things right now. I suppose that I was blindsided by RSS because I don’t spend my time on the web making my life easier. I just use the web as a tool to learn how to do things myself…many times the hard way.

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