RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a way for a site to publish it's updates. RSS readers can read these notifications and display a listing of the updates to you, the user.
It's sort of like having a special 'inbox' for emails announcing updates to your selected websites.
Many applications and websites support RSS feeds. You can add RSS feeds to your My Yahoo! page, Firefox has several RSS extensions such as Sage, there are sites that deal w/ RSS feeds such as Feedster and FastBuzz. Thunderbird even allows you to set up RSS feeds similar to your inbox.
There are also stand alone applications for RSS feeds like Pluck, RSSReader and SharpReader.
Different readers allow you to subscribe to a feed differently. Using Firefox w/ Sage, for example, you can drag-and-drop the RSS icon into your RSS feed folder and it's done.
What's the benefit?
You can use RSS feeds to see if there's anything new at a given site before visiting the site. This wouldn't be a big help if you only had one RSS feed. However, if you have several sites you check routinely, this can cut the time down tremendously.
It gives you more of an 'at-a-glance' view of all your monitored sites. Imagine if when you went to click on your bookmark for a site that it also said right then if the site had changed and how.
Also, depending on the RSS reader you use, it can tell you when you have a new update on the site.
Sites with RSS Feeds
There are many sites w/ RSS feeds. To know if a site has an RSS feed, look for an "RSS" link on the site or a button/icon w/ RSS, ATOM or XML on it.
One cool use is to set the RSS feed for a news search on a site. At Yahoo! News you can search on a topic in the news and then subscribe to that feed using the XML icon.
A lot of news/info/blog sites have RSS feeds that can help you keep up to date on the info you want.
It's a collection of tech info that's updated regularly. You can see if/when it's been updated in your reader, see the title of the updates and a short summary and then decide if you want to load the site or that post or nothing.
RSS readers allow you to see the latest updates to sites (and possibly be notified) at-a-glance without having to go to all your sites and load them. It's like peaking into many sites from a single place.
Bear Cahill is a software engineer in the Dallas, TX area and runs a few websites including: The Armchair Geek (thearmchairgeek.com), http://www.webpagehostinginfo.com, http://www.gotocollegeonline.com and http://www.videoexchange.org
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