Wednesday, October 13, 2004

What is RSS

RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication.
There is absolutely bucketloads of information on the web about RSS and XML.

However to summarise it its best to describe its use to an individual.
Most people are already used to receiving email. They may already be subscribed to email subscription services. These are emails that you signed up for on a web site maybe with a product or software registration. Most people are also used to getting email subscriptions that they don't want - also known as spam.
The control in a email subscription process is in two places. The subscriber must request the email (at least for legitimate sources) and the sender must maintain a database of the email addresses to send to, and then send the mail out periodically. If the user wants to cancel the subscription then there needs to be a mechanism to do this, eg sending a reply with Remove in the subject line, or logging into a web site and deselecting the subscription.

RSS is so simple that it makes the email subscription process look like rocket science in comparison.
In your email program (if configured with the right addin), or in an alternative news reader you can subscribe to a RSS link - like the one on this page in the right hand side bar also here. Everytime this page is updated your news reader will be notified with the updated information.
If you no longer want to subscribe then you delete the feed in your news reader / email.

That simple.

No lists to be put on or taken off, no spam. Your email and details do not have to go to the publisher. You are completely in control and the publisher doesn't have to do anything other than provide the RSS / XML link.

Tomorrow I will talk about RSS readers.