"What is this RSS that everyone keeps talking about?" you ask.

I have mentioned RSS a number of times on this blog and I suppose I have assumed that most readers know what it means. But recently at a presentation I did two people came up to me afterwards and said I should have explained what I meant by RSS. So here is some info...

RSS is a simple way to let people subscribe online to something you offer. It might be an audio podcast or it might just allow them to know each time you update your website or blog.

This blog has a number of RSS "feeds" on the right side column at the top of the home page. It allows you to subscribe to the blog or even an individual subtopic (like "Events"). Then any time I add a new entry, you will be notified.

OK, now the trickier part of it. It won't send you an email. You need some type of RSS aggregator (AKA a "reader" or "news reader") to catch these reminders. I've written here about Bloglines but there are others (see the extended portion of this entry below). You copy the RSS address from the site you want to subscribe to. (For this blog you could use the address http://devel2.njit.edu/serendipity/index.php?/feeds/index.rss2 for example ) You paste it into Bloglines and it subscribes you. Next time you open your Bloglines account, it will tell you if there's anything new. The nice part is that I can go to my Bloglines page and read many (about 45 now) blogs and sites without having to actually go to the site. They are "aggregated" all in that one place.

Still confused? You can take a look at my Bloglines account (the portion I have made "public" - there are others I have marked "private") and you can see and read my current blogs subscriptions.

Some RSS aggregators for your consideration:

Some browsers now incorporate RSS readers - Safari RSS for Mac OSX; Firefox (Mac or PC) uses an extension aggregator called Sage and the next version of Internet Explorer is supposed to have a built-in RSS reader.


Here are a few colleges that are using RSS feeds for news broadcasting:

Additional information on the RSS file format


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