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1. Getting Started with RSS

RSS (most commonly translated as "Really Simple Syndication" but sometimes "Rich Site Summary") is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format. An RSS document (which is called a "feed", "web feed", or "channel") includes full or summarized text, plus metadata such as publishing dates and authorship. Web feeds benefit publishers by letting them syndicate content automatically. They benefit readers who want to subscribe to timely updates from favored websites or to aggregate feeds from many sites into one place. RSS feeds can be read using software called an "RSS reader", "feed reader", or "aggregator", which can be web-based, desktop-based, or mobile-device-based. You can embed an RSS feed on a web page or a wiki page. For example, we have embedded an RSS feed from a technology & education site below this text. The RSS feed gives you the title of the article together with a brief description of the content.

    2. RSS Readers

    RSS readers provide you with a really powerful way to manage your information. You can use RSS Readers to receive multiple feeds. For example, you might have RSS Feeds for educational sites that interest you, for news sites such as the New Zealand Herald and BBC news, for technology sites such as Apple Hot News.

    An RSS reader lets you store multiple feeds in a structured manner using folders. The RSS Reader from NetNewsWire does this well and if you follow this link you can take a look at a screen shot of the folder structure in their reader. You can scan the RSS headlines and then click on the headlines to read the rest of the information. That way, you can filter out what you don't want and just look at what interests you. Some RSS readers will display the website in the reader when you click on the feed headline. NetNewsWire has this feature. Follow this link to take a look.

    There are lots of RSS readers out there.

    This link will take you to a page with the 'top ten" RSS readers for Windoze, sorry Windows -

    This link will take you to a page with the 'top ten" RSS readers for Macs

    3. Creating RSS Feeds

    If you've got something to say and you want people to be able to subscribe to an RSS feed you can get around the whole creation problem by using e.g. a blogging service or a wiki or a social networking site. Most of these services and applications allow people to subscribe using RSS. Problem solved. Read on to see why this is a good suggestion.

    The bottom line with creating RSS feeds is that it is a little bit complicated.

    If you're thinking about doing it you're going to have to have a website and a server. If you have both of those then you've probably got enough knowledge to have a go at creating a feed.

    Creating the feed involves creating a file of a particular sort (XML) and uploading the file to your server. You then need to create a link on a web page so that people can subscribe to the feed.

    If you're feeling brave you can create the file manually. Take a look at this website from Stephen Downes for some instructions.

    If the instructions for manually creating a feed have left you feeling faint, you can purchase some relatively inexpensive software to create the RSS feeds for you.

    An example of RSS feed creation software can be found at