RSS – real simple Syndication – is being used by more and more people, even though they do not know what RSS is. According to a recent survey by Nielsen NetRatings 83 percent of RSS users were actually unaware of using RSS technology.

Allan Hoffman, the technology writer for Newark Star Ledger provides a nice definition of RSS and how it is used.

RSS is a handy, efficient way to stay on top of the latest news from online newspapers, Weblogs and other sources. Customized Web pages, such as My Yahoo (my.yahoo.com), often use RSS to bring together headlines in one convenient spot, as do specialized RSS 'readers' with names like NetNewsWire and SharpReader……

Here is the basic idea behind RSS: Rather than visiting scores of blogs, newspapers and other online information sources to seek out the latest news — or to see if anything new is, in fact, available — why not have one spot, typically free of ads, where you can see a list of the latest headlines and whether the news has been updated?

With RSS, you save yourself from zipping from one Web site to another in search of the latest information. Instead, you can see the headlines from various sites and decide what news to read.

RSS 'readers' — programs specifically designed to keep track of news made available through the RSS standard — have helped many tech-heads connect with RSS headlines. But many people should seek out other ways to connect with RSS. As RSS has become more popular, ways of accessing RSS news 'feeds,' as RSS information is called, have multiplied and gotten easier to use.

Web browsers, like Firefox (for Linux, Macintosh and Windows) and Safari (for Macintosh), have added RSS capabilities, allowing you to read RSS headlines without dealing with the technology's sometimes cumbersome innards. An extension to Firefox, known as Sage (sage.mozdev.org), further enhances the program's RSS capabilities.

And RSS will likely reach a much larger audience when the next version of Internet Explorer 7 for Windows is released, as Microsoft says it will include easy access to RSS feeds.

I keep telling folks that RSS will be as well known as Web sites and email in the near future. As newspapers like the Newark paper provide good articles like this, the day is getting closer.