RSS really is really simple

Q: What does RSS stand for?

A: RSS, in the context you are most likely asking, stands for Really Simple Syndication.

The easiest way to understand RSS is to think of how you gather information on the Internet. Many people like to start their day with a cup of coffee while reading a few news stories on the Internet. You might start at the CNN web site to read the top stories of the day and then jump over to ESPN to catch the latest news on the Pacers. And of course, you’ll then want to visit the Noobie web site to see what new articles have been posted on the “What’s Noo?” blog.

Each of the sites I just mentioned offers what is called an RSS feed. The idea behind an RSS feed is that you don’t have to visit all of these web sites one at a time. Using what is called a feed reader, or sometimes a feed aggregator, you can read all of the articles I just described in one central location.

RSS Internet ExplorerTo do this, you first need to obtain a feed reader program. If you have Internet Explorer 7 or Microsoft Outlook 2007, you’re in luck because these programs have a feed reader built into them. Otherwise, you can use other popular feed readers such as NewsGator or Google Reader.

Once you have your feed reader you will need to subscribe to each web site’s RSS feed. This usually entails just entering a web site feed address into your feed reader software. From this point forward, any new articles from the RSS feeds you subscribe to will automatically appear in your feed reader software as unread articles. You no longer have to visit multiple web sites searching for new articles. Instead they will magically show up in your feed reader.

Another benefit of RSS is that you don’t have to mess around with email subscriptions to each web site. If you no longer want to read articles from a web site, just delete the feed from your feed reader software. No more worries about excessive email or spam. Some experts have even gone on record saying that RSS will replace email as the preferred method of receiving news in the next few years.

This post was originally broadcast Friday, April 13, 2007 on Tech Talk with Noobie, a weekly radio show on WCBK 102.3 FM in Martinsville, Indiana. Tech Talk with Noobie airs every Friday between 11:30 a.m. and noon. If you have a question you would like Noobie to answer on the air, simply e-mail your question to [email protected].