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RSS for the Real World

by Dana VanDen Heuvel  |  
November 18, 2003

Before you go any further, realize this: RSS is really simple.

—Michael Fagan

It never ceases to amaze me that once we master a certain technology, we so quickly forget that we were once novices at it with a million questions and a certain degree of frustration. We need to remember that the best-designed and most-simple technology wins us over and stays with us forever—remember your first cell phone?

This summer, I received an email from a blog reader, “I really enjoy your blog, but I only read it once a month or so, because most of my blog reading is done with RSS feeds (I mainly use News Gator). Blogs I'm not subscribed to will eventually not get read at all….”

What was he talking about? RSS? News Gator? I had no clue. I thought it was cool enough just to have my own blog! How do I set up RSS? Do I need RSS? Great! More stuff I had to learn… or so I thought.

What Is RSS?

RSS is a “techie” acronym for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary, depending on whom you talk to, the time of day and the day of the week. Also referred to as an RSS feed or XML feed, this protocol is an application of XML that provides an open method of syndicating (or distributing) and aggregating Web content.

RSS is the hottest thing in Web communication, and the beauty of it is that it really is simple. Just like that first cell phone.

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Dana VanDen Heuvel is the New Media Director at Balance Studios, a worldwide firm specializing in animation, interactive development, and broadcast productions for feature film, B-to-B, and commercial clients. You can reach him by email at or phone at 920-433-9770.

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