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What is RSS?

RSS stands for "Rich Site Summary" or "Real Simple Syndication."

Wikipedia defines RSS as "a family of Web feed formats used to publish frequently updated content including, but not limited to, blog entries, news headlines, and podcasts. An RSS document (which is called a "feed" or "web feed" or "channel") contains either a summary of content from an associated web site or the full text. RSS makes it possible for people to keep up with their favorite web sites in an automated manner that can be piped into special programs or filtered displays."

What is a news feed?
RSS feeds are often called news feeds or web feeds.

What is an aggregator or reader?
RSS feeds are generated in code, and it takes a reader or aggregator to collect the feeds and make them useful to you by publishing them in one place. "Such applications are also referred to as RSS readers, feed readers, feed aggregators, news readers or search aggregators. Aggregators with podcasting capabilities can automatically download media files, such as MP3 recordings." (Wikipedia) With a newsreader or aggregator, you can subscribe to RSS feeds and then go to your aggregator to see what's new.

RSS in Plain English


How do I find RSS feeds?

One of the most common symbols for an RSS feed is an orange icon that looks like this: 150px-Feed-icon.svg.png You can often find this next to the URL in the location box on your browser or in one of the sidebars on a web page. Most often if you click on that icon, you'll get directions for subscribing. You may also see something like this: 39.gif

Many web pages have RSS feeds available. So do most electronic journals, online databases, e-newsletters, newspapers, photosharing sites, wikis, social bookmarking tools, podcasts, online calendars and task management tools, online communities and threaded-discussions. Most blogs have an RSS feed. (Even if it isn't easily identified, try entering the URL of the blog in your reader. If there is a feed, it may recognize it. Bloglines does.) You can also search Bloglines to find feeds of interest and subscribe to them.

You can also search for RSS feeds with Technorati. You can create a feed for any search that you do at Technorati often, so the updated results will come to you automatically.


There are three basic kinds of readers: Web-based readers that you access RSS feeds through your web browser, standalone readers that require separate, standalone software; and customizable webpages that let you add widgets for RSS feeds to your own pages.

Web-Based RSS Readers

Customizable page generators that will integrate and display RSS feeds

Standalone RSS Readers

RSS in the Classroom

Keep Up to Date Professionally and Personally
You can use RSS feeds and an aggregator to keep up to date with your blogs, world and local news, family photostreams, podcasts, weather forecasts, lottery results, product price changes and sales, new publications from your favorite authors or publishers, social bookmarks, professional association news, photos--almost anything you can find on the web! By using RSS feeds, you won't have to check each of them each day. Instead, when something
new is added, it will appear in your reader. RSS feeds may make up a major portion of your personal learning network.

"Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) is the phrase coined for the learner 2.0's way of meeting a need to grow knowledge in areas of interest by establishing relevant learning connections to like-interested people around the globe. A personal learning network provides individuals with learning and access to leaders and experts around the world bringing together communities, resources and information impossible to access solely from within brick and mortar walls. PLNs are made up of a collection of resources that you can go to when you want to learn something. This is achieved in a variety of ways such as participating in online communities of like-minded learners from around the globe using tools such as blogs, wikis, RSS, podcasts and more." (Wikipedia)

Jeff Utecht Creative Commons 3.0