What is RSS? (For Newbies to Web 2.0)

What is Web 2.0?

So, a little bit after Guttenberg popularized movable type, people were really into libraries and books and whatnot. Then in 1994 when Al Gore used his magical powers to invent the internet, people had no more use for books and other printed materials. Instead, they voted to create content on a centralized distrubution network that they called the internet. Even this method demanded too much time and energy from these content consumers. So, they created another evolution in technology and named it Web 2.0 (which is a play on words convention. Software is produced in versions: 1.0 is okay, then 1.2 comes out, then 1.25, all the way to 1.7. After the manufacturer has gotten all the glitches out with version 1.7, the company rereleases that version as NEW AND IMPROVED version 2.0! … ). Web 2.0 refers to the new and improved way we use the internet. For the best, most in-depth discussion of this phenomenon, see the MIT Sloan Management Review’s article in PDF form. Web 2.0 made content distribution really easy. How? A non-centralized distribution model that took advantage of community-based Web standards … Wha?

What is RSS? (Really Simple Syndication)

So, in this new Web 2.0 world people don’t have time to visit EVERY Web site they enjoy. There are just too many of them. Instead, they use syndication feed aggregators. These are programs that go around the internet, pick up the latest headlines and articles from various Websites, and then compile all the headlines of all your favorite sites in one program for your viewing pleasure. Sorta like the personal shoppers of the internet.

Of course, you need to tell these shoppers where to look. So, you have to “subscribe” to any Web sites’ “RSS feeds” that you want your shopper to aggregate. Using this Web site as an example, if you wanted to subscribe to my RSS feed (and why wouldn’t you?), You would click the orange icon () and you would be taken to my RSS feed page. Copy (Press CTRL+C) the URL at the top (https://talkinlawschoolblues.wordpress.com/feed), and then put it into your feed reader. Simple syndication. Actually, Really Simple Syndication.

Feed Readers

My guess, though, is that if you didn’t know what RSS was, then you don’t have a feed reader. There are plenty of great readers available, and my only advice is: Don’t buy one. There are tons of free readers. Type in ‘Free RSS Reader’ into Google to see your options. At work (on my PC), I use GreatNews, but you might want to use the most popular one out there: FeedReader.


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