Really Simple Syndication


Really Simple Syndication, or RSS, allows for simultaneous use of some portion of a website's informational content elsewhere on the web. This is accomplished by the website periodically updating an appropriately formatted file known as a feed which represents the site's content, with interested parties elsewhere on the web periodically downloading this feed to reflect the site's updates.

While there are many conceivable uses for this technique -- e.g., mimicking traditional wire services -- most websites (including the CCC's) stock their feeds with the headlines from their latest content, along with brief summaries or excerpts, as well as a link or URL to each full piece. While such feeds are sometimes displayed on other websites, they are most typically used by individuals gathering headlines from sites of their choosing for display in a news aggregator or feed reader. Such use allows for a personalized set of headlines from a variety of sources -- e.g., news, policy, arts, opinion. The URLs for feeds are by custom those found linked with an orange rectangle, as in RSS or XML, and these URLs are pasted into the appropriate field of the aggregator.

News aggregators come in two general forms: ones that are installed on the desktop of your own local machine either as stand-alone programs or as extensions of existing programs (e.g. web browsers or mail clients), and those that are accessed via a web site and so are usable from any machine. While a staggeringly long list of aggregators is available at the Wikipedia, here's an abridged list: