RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication”. It’s a way to easily distribute content (news, stories, podcasts, the tutorial you’re reading right now) to a large number of people. Software programs, called RSS readers, take that content and present it in an easy to view format…
Most people are interested in many web sites whose content changes on an unpredictable basis. Repeatedly checking each site to see if there’s any new content can be a pain in the behind. RSS is a great way to be notified of new and changed info. Notifications of changes to multiple web sites are handled easily, and the results are presented to you in a well organized format.
You may have seen the RSS icon () on various web sites or blogs (this one included). This icon lets you know that there’s content to which you can subscribe and view using an RSS reader.
With an RSS reader you can subscribe to many feeds and read the new entries all in one place, without having to visit individual Web sites to find out what’s new.
There are several different kinds of RSS readers. Some are dedicated programs for viewing RSS feeds, such as FeedDemon 2.0 (Windows, $30), NetNewsWire (Mac OS X, $30) and Pluck (Windows/Mac , $free). Some are plugins that allow you to view RSS feeds in your email program, such as NewsGator Inbox for Microsoft Outlook ($30, Windows).
You can also view RSS feeds through web sites such as My Yahoo!, Pluck Online or my personal fav Netvibes. The screenshot below is an example how you can view several RSS feeds on a single web page/site.
Many web browsers also have built-in RSS support – Firefox, by “Live Bookmarks”, Safari has a built in RSS reader and even IE 7 will (does in beta) support RSS.