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What is RSS and why is it significant to Web 2.0?

RSS (most commonly expanded as “Really Simple Syndication”) is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format (Wikipedia.org, 2010).   An RSS document (which is called a “feed”, “web feed”, or “channel”) includes full or summarized text, plus metadata such as publishing dates and authorship (Wikipedia.org, 2010).   RSS is an acronym that stands for Rich Site Summary, though it’s often alternatively defined as Really Simple Syndication. The simplest definition of RSS is an eXtensible Markup Language (XML) format that uses the Resource Description Framework (RDF) for representing information about resources on the World Wide Web (D’Souza, n.d., p.6).

RSS feeds are the structures that organize content which is being updated on a regular basis in order for others to retrieve it. This content could be articles, blog posts, photos, PDF documents, PowerPoint Presentations, audio files, video files, or other applications (D’Souza, n.d.). 

Uses of RSS feeds

Image showing the uses of RSS feeds in the past and the present (Web 2.0 Ideas for Educators; A guide to RSS and more, n.d, p. 7).

As this visualization shows, RSS feeds can more recently be seen being used for many different purposes. Bloggers created a different type of media, by adding audio and video files as the primary content to their posts. Listeners can subscribe to their favourite audio blog, also called a podcast, and download the audio files to be played on personal computers or mobile devices. This created a media which resembles a radio show, where the shows are almost always archived for future listening. While video blogs, also known as vlogs, created a type of archived video shows. All types of web applications are using feeds to share data within social networks, through enhancing accessibility to productivity tools, research tools, watch lists, and sharing peer created content. The numbers of applications that are using feeds are growing daily (D’Souza, n.d, p.7).  There are new tools coming in to existence due to RSS feeds.  These new tools are allowing content to be reformatted in countless ways.  There has been shift from a World Wide Web that is “read only” to a Web that is being described as the “Read Write Web.” Instead of content that was for the most part static, we are starting to see the ability to remix content in different ways, in order to suit our needs (D’Souza, n.d, p.7).

Through RSS feeds and the concepts developed by web 2.0, web pages can now be structured to include feeds to relevant and up to date content to support the ideas and information contained on the page.


Wikipedia.org (2010). RSS Retrieved March 24, 2010 from             http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSS

D’Souza, Q. (n.d.) Web 2.0 Ideas for Educators; A guide to RSS and more: The Creative Commons Attribution. Retrieved March 24, 2010, from        http://www.teachinghacks.com/files//100ideasWeb2educators.pdf


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