The demystification of the RSS feed

September 7, 2007 at 10:01 pm (Tech Geekery, Web 2.0 Must-haves)

Come closer, my children, and I will tell you of another place and time.

[cue music: wierd398x5.trifile]

A time so long distant, that datalink users manipulated manual input devices to interface with their archaic machines, in a loud clatter of buttons and clicking.

[ancient clicking sound effects]

But into their unsophisticated world, there came a change. Before this change, users were forced to navigate themselves through the “web” to check on their valuable sources of data, looking for updates and new content. [more clicking] They would hunt like this for hours, wasting time being side-tracked and endless click, click, clicking.

[more irregular tapping noises, becoming slower and slower. they seem to nearly stop, then…]

But then the change occurred. A new technology was born that was the dawn of a new era.

[cue music: intrepiddawn32.trifile]

They called it “syndication” and “newsfeeds”. Finally, they forced their rudimentary version of the datalink to work for them, bringing to them the information they required. New content traveled the “intertubes” to the user, filed itself in an organized manner, and waited for their hungry eyes to consume it at their leisure.

It was a dark time, but the “RSS feed” was a glimmer of order and reason in their barbaric world of confusion and anarchy.

A short video that explains in very simple terms what an RSS feed is, what it can do for you, and how to set one up easily:

If you use Firefox to browse the web, I would probably recommend using the built-in reader. This page contains reviews of the better-known Firefox plug-ins that can better manage your RSS feeds. I found it informative!

rssfirefox.png(If you don’t use Firefox to browse the web, good heavens, go download it.)

I’ve found RSS feeds to be easy to use, and simple to set up. If you have any trouble at all, ask a tech-y friend, and they should get it cleared up right away. RSS feeds are awesome. And you can do some unusual things with them too, like I have some set up with craigslist, and they keep an eye on a certain search term for me, and if any item is ever listed for sale that matches the search, it will come to me in an RSS feed. It’s super-handy. I think you can set up search alerts this way with e-bay too, and probably other sites as well. So it’s definitely for more than blogs!

Oh, and like… sign up for my blog’s RSS feed! >_>






  1. Nicolas Ward said,

    I can tell you why I haven’t started using RSS – I like the spatial/topical organization of the web page when I reload it, as a guide to what I have read or not, as opposed to a temporal one. But I guess I can give one of these reader hoo-hahs a try.

  2. Naed said,

    The most clear introduction to RSS for non-geeks I’ve ever seen.

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