RSS is a web-based standard that delivers information to users in an easily accessible, sharable and 'remixable' format. RSS stands for 'Really Simple Syndication' and information publishers such as bloggers, news organizations, and podcasters use it to broadcast their regularly updated content so that it can quickly and easily picked up by other media, much in the same way that the Associated Press syndicates its news stories in order to be picked up by newspapers throughout the world. It is often said that RSS liberates web-based content from format by packaging it in such a way that it can be shared and republished on other websites and newsreader services in new and diverse formats.
Here is a brief video explaining RSS.
RSS in plain English: http://www.commoncraft.com/rss_plain_english
According to Wikipedia, the concept behind RSS was born as early as 1995, but it wasn't until March 1999 that 'RDF Site Summary,' the first official version of RSS (RSS 0.9), was released for use on the My.Netscape.com portal. Later that year, several RDF elements were removed and replaced by scripting elements from a news syndication framework, thereby prompting RSS to be renamed 'Rich Site Summary.' Over the following years, Netscape withdrew its involvement from RSS development and the ensuing void was filled by two independent entities: the RSS-DEV Working Group and another team led by Dave Winer. In 2000, the RSS-DEV Working Group released RSS 1.0, which reintroduced support for RDF and added XML namespaces. This was later followed by the release of RSS 2.0 by Winer's team, which further refined the scripting elements of an earlier release while adding XML support (and subsequent redubbing of RSS as 'Really Simple Syndication). Thus, although they share the same initials, RSS 1.0 and RSS 2.0 constitute distinct metadata formats and, depending on who you talk to, different initials. As if all this weren't confusing enough, a new format named Atom was developed in 2003 in an effort to free RSS from contentious disputes over formatting and naming issues.
Although naming and formatting issues remain unsettled, in 2005 the Microsoft Internet Explorer and Outlook teams announced that they would adopt a common feed icon, which first appeared in the Mozilla Firefox browser. Opera later followed suit, thereby replacing the variety of icons formerly used and creating an industry standard for marking feeds across the different formats.
We recommend using RSS feeds and Newsreader software if:
Taking a page out of the guys from Common Craft's book, you can start using RSS feeds in three easy steps:
Small example of semi-automatized RSS feed of selected Google news into CIMMYT's website: http://www.cimmyt.org/english/wps/media/index.htm (exotic scripts may have some troubles to show up correctly in Microsoft explorer)
and that is all. If you would like to have more feeds from Google News rerouted through your reader into various headline RSS feeds in your website, there is a way how to go around it using selected tag. Contact me for a details if needed ;o). Thanks to Pete Sehlton for tip and guidance!
Image source: http://blaugh.com/cartoons/070119_finish_your_RSS.gif