I love RSS – and so should you

You know, we’d be lying if we said we didn’t care if people read our blogs or not. If that were the case, we wouldn’t be wasting our time getting in front of our machines, surfing to our sites and posting entries riddled with other crap, like hyperlinks such as this (which doesn’t go anywhere by the way) and formatting some words a certain way.

Doing these things takes time… considerably more time than if we had just written our thoughts on a piece of paper (or a notebook if it makes you feel better).

Faced with such a reality, I figured that while trying to “market” my site’s content, I might as well advocate an extremely useful tool/technology while I’m at it.

Friends and I were discussing how much of a godsend RSS was and how we are able to keep up with all our friends and aquaintances’ blogs without breaking a sweat. It was simple, really simple syndication (pun intended).[1]: http://www.google.com/search?q=define%3Arss&sourceid=mozilla-search&start=0&start=0&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8 “What is RSS?”

“View post seen in image”

NOTE: Before everything else, if you know what RSS is, then this post is NOT for you.

What is RSS?

RSS can stand for [a lot of things][1]. But it’s generally accepted to mean what I mentioned earlier: Really Simple Syndication.

On one of the definitions, we have one of the simplest explanations:

It is an XML format for distributing news headlines on the Web – also known as syndication.

Wait a minute… XML?

For those who don’t know what XML is, It’s another markup language (such as HTML).

XML stands for eXtensible Mark-up Language, a specification developed by the W3C. XML is a pared-down version of Standard Generalised Mark-Up Language, designed especially for Web documents. It allows designers to create their own customised tags, enabling the definition, transmission, validation, and interpretation of data between applications and between organizations.

The W3C (WWWC) or the World Wide Web Consortium is pretty much the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) of the internet. If they agree on something, chances are, it would be de-facto web standard in time.

So there we have it. RSSing via XML. Basically, the operative term is syndication – wherein a site is able to share information with other sites. RSS is the popular medium in which content syndiation is being done nowadays.

Why should I bother with RSS?

Indeed, that is the question. Is RSS needed? That would depend on the type of internet user you are. To answer that, I’d probably have to give an example of how I would get my daily “fix” of information.

I enjoy surfing the web because of how much information I can find in it. But as with everyone else, I tend to frequent certain sites more often than others. For the sake of argument lets say I would like to keep myself up to date with content from these sites:

Now normally, if I didn’t know any better, I’d simply go to each and every site, each and every day hoping to find some interesting updates. Now if you would visit the sites themselves, you’d notice that there are a lot of “extraneous” elements like advertisements, heavy graphics usage for the site’s layout, etc. 1 You’re free to try it by clicking the links above to the said sites.

Now imagine if you had hundreds friends that had their own blogs, 2 And that can easily be the case given how social networking sites have blogging capabilities. and you wanted to keep yourself up to date with all of of them – would you actually have time to visit them all? Is that even physically possible?

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to:

  1. Be notified if something was updated.
  2. Only show you the updated content without the extraneous elements that needlessly consume bandwidth.
  3. Be able to do the previous two with any number of sites and have everything consolidated in one interface.

Well you’re in luck, that’s exactly what RSS was made for!

My girlfriend is baffled how I, a person who doesn’t go out much, could keep myself updated with absolutely everything – especially news about the people around us (e.g. her friends) more than she is. The answer is simple: RSS. She fails to realize that I don’t have to go around looking for new things… with RSS, everything comes to me.

RSS feeds work best with an “aggregator” – which is basically client software that manages them:

*My daily fix only clicks away*

As you can see, everything’s organized in an email-ish sort of way. It lists all the sites you have set for it to manage – and tells you if there are new (unread) content available. You can then drill down and see the different articles/content and decide which are interesting enough to read – it’s like skimming through a newspaper’s contents.

The “article” in the screenshot is actually this very same post you will find here in my blog – but without the overhead from my site’s interface images.

Now imagine imagine if you had to “surf” to those sites one-by-one – it would take too much time compared to syndicating your content via RSS. If that isn’t enough to convince you, then I don’t know what will.

I have a lot of respect for RSS; that’s why the links to my friends’ blogs have little RSS icons indicating if their blog has RSS capabilities (even if they themselves don’t know it).

What has that got to do with this post?

I mentioned being guilty of wanting to “share” my thoughts (specifically my blog) to others. And RSS is probably the answer to that.

I figured that an “RSS enabled” person can afford to spend time checking a whole bunch of posts/news articles from virtually any site he has set in the reader. That’s why people like us seem to be all over the place (posting comments here and there). It’s not because we don’t have anything better to do. It’s simply because RSS has made these sites easily accessible. Checking out news stories, reviews, or checking on friends’ blogs as well as commenting on them, is as easy as instant messaging.

So my advice to you all: Join the RSS craze!

Notes   [ + ]

1. You’re free to try it by clicking the links above to the said sites.
2. And that can easily be the case given how social networking sites have blogging capabilities.

One Reply to “I love RSS – and so should you”

  1. this is awesome!! i was just thinking about the implications of RSS last night, and how i was gonna go about aggregating all the blogs that i read..

    this just gets better everyday. maaan. :”>

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