RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication”. It is a easy way to distribute lists like headlines, update notices, and sometimes content to a wide number of people. It is used by computer programs that organize those headlines and notices for easy reading.
RSS is an XML-based format and while it can be used in different ways for content distribution, its most widespread usage is in distributing news headlines on the Web.
RSS works by having the website author maintain a list of notifications on their website in a standard way. This list of notifications is called an “RSS Feed“. People who are interested in finding out the latest headlines or changes can check this list.
RSS feeds bring automatically updated information straight to your desktop. You can monitor news, blogs, job listings, personals, and classifieds. More and more sites offer feeds, which you can identify by a small button that says either RSS or XML. However, if you click one of these links, you will most likely get a page full of code in your browser. To properly read the feed, you need an RSS reader.
Some popular feed readers include Amphetadesk (Windows, Linux, Mac), FeedReader (Windows), and NewsGator (Windows – integrates with Outlook). There are also a number of web-based feed readers available like My Yahoo, Bloglines, and Google Reader are popular web-based feed readers.
Once you have your Feed Reader, it is a matter of finding sites that syndicate content and adding their RSS feed to the list of feeds your Feed Reader checks. Many sites display a small icon with the acronyms RSS, XML, or RDF to let you know a feed is available.