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What the heck is RSS? ‘TiVO for the Internet’

Chris Ellington, author of the Sales Strategies Blog, answers the ultimate question, ‘What the heck is RSS?’ It’s like TiVO for the Internet.

At his article posted at Blogscritics Chris gives the standard RSS spiel:

RSS stands for ‘Really Simple Syndication’ and it allows you to anonymously get any internet content you want (articles, newsletters, blogs, news, weather, etc.) at your convenience. Syndicate (subscribe to) that content and it just shows up wherever you want. Want it in Outlook? No problem. Want to add it to your internet homepage like My Yahoo! or My MSN? No sweat. Click and go.

But he goes on to explain just how TiVo frees you from the tyranny of a network’s programming department by subscribing to shows and watching them at your convenience, RSS frees you from the tyranny of internet marketing departments. “You merely ‘tune in’ to ‘syndicate’ the content you want (a ‘feed’) and it just shows up automatically.”

Here’s some lessons picked up from Chris’ article.

  • Subscribe to newsletters, articles of interest, blogs, even audio and video content and have it all appear on your My Yahoo! homepage, news aggregator or in your iPod. The new stuff just shows up when it’s published.
  • Like TV, RSS protects your identity. Why do the producers of internet content think they deserve all sorts of personal information before giving you the content they are producing? With RSS you never have to divulge your e-mail address just to get that newsletter or other interesting content that you want from the web, it just up on a news aggregator or browser.
  • Press the Yahoo button, you can add the Sales Strategies Blog to your My Yahoo! homepage. New entries just show up on your My Yahoo! homepage. Automatically. You don’t have to do a thing. It’s like TiVo remembering to record your favorite shows.
  • How does it get into Outlook without knowing my email address? Just like you need a television to watch TV programs, TiVo to record your shows, and a mail reader to check email, you need an &’RSS reader’ to get RSS feeds. Newsgator makes Outlook your RSS Reader. (Microsoft has incorporated an RSS reader into the latest release of Outlook.) Your internet homepage like MSN or Yahoo! can be your RSS Reader, and there are many RSS Readers like Bloglines online that are free or low cost.
  • With NewsGator, you receive new content that looks just like e-mail, but you never gave out your email address to subscribe. Behind the scenes, Outlook scans for updates to your subscribed content (‘syndicated feeds’) on your behalf, in exactly the same way it looks for mail addressed to you. The new entries are then displayed for you in an Outlook folder.

Heck Chris, I didn’t know what TiVO was but know I’ll use it too explain RSS using your excellent analogy. The identity protection explanation will also be real helpfull in explaining to LexBlog’s law firm clients that they do not want to know who their subscribers – one it protects their rights and two, it will result in more subscribers knowing they do not have to trade personal info for good content.

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