RSS = Really Simple Syndication
- Subscription = the process of connecting your website / blog etc to other pages on the World Wide Web
- Feed = the connection (code) itself, described above
- Aggregator = (also known as ‘reader’) a type of web page that allows you to keep track of web pages that you have subscribed to.
This video (RSS in Plain English) effectively describes the concept of RSS feeds. I especially like how they used reverse arrows to indicate how RSS feeds work in relation to your web page (i.e. blog etc).
I use Google Reader as my aggregator of choice (that’s the one shown in the video). Both this video and the RSS PDF linked by Ted in Blackboard also referred to Bloglines. I think I’ll create a Bloglines account and see how that and Google Reader compare.
Some blog templates also come with built-in RSS feeds. In other words, YOU don’t have to do anything. This blog uses the WordPress template called ‘Vistared Little’. It comes with two RSS feeds – one for subscribing to posts and one for subscribing to comments (I’ve subscribed to the comments feed in my Google Reader account already – very handy!)
The power of RSS (also indicated in the video) is the increased productivity that it brings to online users’ lives. Instead of manually checking every blog, wiki, social networking page, news site etc (potentially any web page can have an RSS feed associated with it – although it’s prevalent in pages (see those already listed here) that use Web 2.0 technologies), you can use an RSS aggregator as a sort of portal. This means that you only have to visit one page in order to keep track of your favourite sites – think of the time saved!
Another advantage is that with an aggregator, you are allowed to focus entirely on the content of posts instead of being distracted or held up with images, adverts or extraneous material on the original website.
RSS is really an ingenious tool because it gives all web users a very simple way to manage our travels through cyberspace. Aggregators (readers) provide an effective portal from which to access our greater Personal Learning Environment.