The Web is scattered with orange square boxes, many with the characters RSS inside them. We are constantly asked to subscribe via RSS to blogs, Podcasts and even to web sites.
RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication". It is a way to easily distribute a list of headlines, access UseNet update notices, and sometimes content to a wide number of people.
Social Media such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs and news sites offer their material via RSS so you can access the information in real time from your desktop without the need to visit multiple web sites or to constantly visit sites for updates.
To subscribe to an RSS feed you require a special computer program called "RSS aggregator" or utilise a Cloud aggregator service such as Google Reader.
The aggregators systematically search for updates to the content you have subscribed to.
Initially an RSS feed diverts traffic away from your site as the summarised information is sent to your readers via the RSS so it is important to brand your information and provide Social Bookmark (see relevant article) options to further promote your site and your articles.
Services such as FeedBurner offer statistical data on your RSS feed readers much the same way as you would analyse your web site traffic.
Blogs and most social media services provide a default RSS feed option, sometimes it may be necessary for your organisation to create a new RSS feed by manually coding in XML. A technical overview for RSS feeds can be accessed here http://www.mnot.net/rss/tutorial/.
Popular RSS Aggregators
Omea Reader - http://www.jetbrains.com/omea/reader/
Is perhaps the most powerful and free RSS aggregator available. Omea Reader reads RSS feeds, Usenet news and web pages. Included is search folders, annotations, categories and workspaces. It is compatible with Windows 98/ME/NT/2000/3/XP
Awasu Personal Edition - http://www.awasu.com/
Is available as both a free and a commercial version. It is a feature-rich RSS feed reader with added options and plugins to enhance its useability. The free version has some limitations. Compatible with Windows 98/ME/2000/3/XP
Google Reader - http://www.google.com/reader/view/
A web based RSS aggregator that in true Google style is simple and easy to use yet with powerful features to read your RSS subscriptions. A Google account is required to login and use Google Reader.
Bloglines - http://www.bloglines.com/
Another web based RSS aggregator but does lack a search function.
RSS Bandit - http://www.rssbandit.org/
A very powerful RSS aggregator that will read all RSS feeds and UseNet. Compatible with Windows 9x/ME/NT/2000/3/XP/Vista and requires the .NET framework.
- CommunityNet Aotearoa offers an RSS service: http://lists.community.net.nz/cna/wp-rdf.php