What is RSS?

RSS is an abbreviation for Really Simple Syndication (also, Rich Site Summary). So what the heck is that? Well, for the first term, the initial two words are likely simple to grasp.

However, some folks might benefit from a little clarification about “Syndication.”

The word syndication comes from “syndicate,” which has a number of meanings. We’re not so concerned about the definition used as “A loose affiliation of gangsters.” Two other concepts that would be more beneficial for our use are as follows (from the American Heritage Dictionary):

  • An agency that sells articles, features, or photographs for publication in a number of newspapers or periodicals simultaneously.
  • A chain of newspapers, or an agency that distributes features to multiple newspapers.

If you recall back in the old days when people read newspapers, you might have enjoyed a favorite comic strip. Well, that comic strip was created by an artist and distributed, or “syndicated,” to all the newspapers that wanted to publish that strip.

So, RSS is a modern electronic equivalent of making words, pictures, videos, music, audio broadcasts, etc. (content), available electronically to interested recipients around the world. RSS is most notably associated with blogs.

And the “really simple” part is that when you publish content on a blog, you don’t have to do anything except publish your stuff and it’s instantly distributed (syndicated) for free and available to others who use RSS readers. (Which are also free).

The cool thing for the people reading your stuff is they don’t even need to visit your website. So, they can read all the latest info from their favorite blogs without even visiting your site by installing a free reader or news aggregator.

However, implied in the term “Rich Site Summary” is the notion that the distributed RSS content may only be summary of the primary content, meaning readers would have to click through to the source (your blog) to read the whole article.

Regardless, the idea is sort of like how you could read your favorite comic in your local newspaper without having to visit the artist’s studio who created it. (Perhaps a newspaper is not a valid example anymore. How many people read them?)

What is a Blog?

A blog is a type of website.

The word “blog” is a contraction of “weblog.”

Of course “Web” refers to the “World Wide Web” (www), which is a very large set of interlinked documents accessed via the Internet.

A “log” is a regularly updated record of activities or events, such as ship’s log.

So, a blog is a website with regularly updated articles, photos, videos, audio recordings, etc.

The word “blog” can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog. (Example: I blogged about the word “blog” today.)

QUESTION: Since you can also routinely update a regular website with articles, photos, videos, etc., what makes a blog so special?

ANSWER: Three things.

  • A blog is very easy to update with new articles or “posts.” Easier than a regular website. By its very nature, a blog is intended to facilitate a flow of updated material, while a regular website could remain static indefinitely, or perhaps might be updated only now and then.
  • A blog has a built-in system that allows visitors to easily add their own “comments,” which may be agreements, disagreements, or thoughts right after your posts. (Although you can control and limit this functionality). In this way, blogs facilitate two-way communication and even community building between individuals with mutual interests. Having said that, many websites, including this one, have disabled the commenting feature because of the proliferation of comment spam by robots and low-paid overseas workers that are a nuisance to manage. Oh well!
  • Blogs also have a built-in system (RSS) that automatically notifies search engines and other computers when new material is added. In this way, Internet users around the world have the potential to instantly be aware of, and view, your new material – without even visiting your blog (your words automatically show up on their computer). This third part, in particular, is a powerful way to leverage your views, knowledge and expertise via technology. Of course, this potential is really the most meaningful only after people decide to follow your content.

Blogs are be used by businesses, large and small, to facilitate frequent communication with customers and potential customers.

Blogs are used by artists and writers who wish to develop new material online, and/or are desiring visitor feedback or participation.

Blogs are used by anyone desiring to promote their services, their products or themselves.

In each of these examples, blogs can generate MORE visitors than regular websites, especially when used effectively as part of an search engine optimization strategy.

Furthermore, in each of these examples blogs are more effective at establishing increased INTERACTION with visitors, compared to regular websites. Blogs are an integral component of the internet’s social media interactions.

What is the Difference Between the Internet and the World Wide Web?

network

In every-day language, many folks regularly use the terms Internet and World Wide Web (Web) as synonyms.

However, the terms are not identical.

The Internet is a global data communications system. It is a hardware and software infrastructure that provides connectivity between computers.

In contrast, the Web is one of the services communicated via the Internet. It is a collection of interconnected documents, photos, videos and other resources, that can be accessed with a click of your mouse.

One could loosely liken the Internet to the global system of physical roadways, and liken the Web to all the cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles that comprise them (individual websites). If you could also imagine that all the vehicles are not only connected by pavement, but also by cell phones, and that you had potential access to every phone number of every vehicle in the world, the analogy would become more accurate.