What the heck is RSS?

A demonstration of using RSS feeds to display info real time. This feed is available from the news agency Reuters. RSS feeds are usually available when you see RSS Feed or XML Newsfeed Mark on a web page, but many other link styles exist.

Odd News From Reuters

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Not to be confused with ROUS.

The concept of RSS arose from this basic situation: "I have a standard set of web site I visit everyday to gather information or be entertained. But now I spend too much time making the rounds to these sites. It seems to me that if computers are so damn smart, mine could go and get the information I am looking for."

In the earlier days of the commercialization of the internet - there were services that were trying to create a way for people to get such a customized feed. But they were ignoring a recurring truth of the internet. "You cannot control the basic usage of the internet." There were many problems with the model of these services (the most prominent was known as PointCast).

Instead of creating the service that tried to act like some sort of clearinghouse for incoming and outgoing information, RSS was developed as a protocol that anyone could add to their flow of information. Either outgoing (as with an RSS feed) or incoming (as with an RSS reader). Anyone who publishes information can fairly easily setup and RSS feed. For people who consume RSS feeds it is getting easier everyday to setup your own personal accumulation of data. Besides special RSS readers, RSS is being added to email clients, web browsers, and there is a whole new service of RSS aggregators that allow you setup your own web pages built of your own set of RSS feeds. (A lot like the way Hotmail and Yahoo let you set up a free email account.)

Who owns RSS?

No one does - that is an important reason why it is successful. A bunch of geeks got together and established a standard protocol that anyone could use (from either size: sending info or gathering info) This started with a few of the techie and academic sites establishing RSS feeds and some passionate programmers creating RSS readers. And a new variation of internet media was created.

Today (mid 2005) we are just at the beginning to see the cultural and commercial potential of RSS.