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By John Evans

If you’ve never heard of the term RSS or RSS feeds you are not alone. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project2, 26% of the average American internet users have never heard of the term and a further 64% aren’t really sure what it means. In this article I will give the reader a brief overview of RSS and its application for busy educators.

So what is RSS? RSS is an acronym that stands for Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication depending on who is describing it. According to Wikipedia, “RSS is a family of XML (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XML) file formats for Web syndication (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web syndication) used by (amongst other things) news websites (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Website) and web logs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weblog)…The technology behind RSS allows internet users to subscribe to websites that have provided RSS feeds; these are typically sites that change or add content regularly.”3 The vast amount of information on the internet coupled with its accessibility for any user can be overwhelming. Now this is the exciting part…instead of being overwhelmed and overloaded, RSS allows the user to be in control of the information coming to them. They can set up their own collection of incoming information feeds of their choice and sift through it with less difficulty and far less time than ever before.

Web logs (blogs) and news sites are the most common use of RSS feeds. When new content is added to a blog or web site, that content is automatically updated to every subscriber of that RSS feed. A software program called an aggregator automatically pulls in the feeds. The aggregator program can be desktop-based residing on one computer, or web-based allowing access from multiple computers. Most aggregator programs are free and can be easily

2 PEW/INTERNET & AMERICAN LIFE PROJECT (July 2005). Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP Data Techterm aware.pdf

3 Wikipedia, Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSS %28file format%29, November 2005

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