What is Web 2.0? Part I: RSS Feeds

What does it all mean?

The Internet is a complex nexus of constantly evolving technology. Information moves and applications morph quickly throughout the web, allowing websites, buzzwords, and new ways of working to appear overnight. As more and more people become comfortable using web tools to connect with others and obtain information, these tools can make or break an artist or small company. This latest shift in the way the Internet is used for personal and professional sharing, networking  and business development has been dubbed the “Web 2.0 Revolution”.

What, exactly, is Web 2 point 0?

Web 2.0 does not refer to a new version of the world wide web, or any change in software. It has been coined to refer to web practices and applications that are designed to facilitate information sharing between users and provide platforms for social interaction. RSS feeds, blogs, social networking sites (like facebook and linked-in), and social media sites (like youtube and flickr) are all part of the Web 2.0 environment.

RSS Feeds Explained

Web logs or “blogs” are designed to feed news to us readers. If you follow several news sites (like the New York Times or your local paper) or a favorite blog, it can be difficult to organize and check all of them consistently. RSS feeds and newsreaders are set up to solve this problem and bring the news to you–rather than force you to chase after the news. An RSS feed (short for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary) is a summary of information (or aggregator) created by a blog or news website that can be syndicated or sent out to a newsreader.

When you set up an RSS newsreader, you set up a single website that collects information and posts from all of your favorite blogs and sites. By using an RSS reader you will only have to check one website which will feed you the new information from all of your favorite blogs and sites.

In order to use RSS feeds you must first sign up for a newsreader service. Google Reader is a popular free program for collecting RSS feeds. Your e-mail service may also have an RSS newsreader. Once you are signed up for a free newsreader service you can then begin subscribing to your favorite news sites and blogs.

Most blogs and news sites will have the orange (or sometimes blue) RSS icon button to indicate that the page provides an RSS feed. If you find this sign click on it, or use the “Subscribe” button that might be available. Then follow the instructions to subscribe to the blog. For many websites you can also copy the web address and paste it into the “Add A Subscription” area of yo ur newsreader.

Most RSS feeds are designed with a similar interface: the left hand side of the screen will have a list of the different sites to which you have subscribed. The sites that have new updates will be listed in bold. The right hand side will have a larger viewing panel where you can read the news articles and posts from these sites.

Often the news article will show up in your RSS feed as a headline or truncated version of the posted material. It is beneficial to you, the reader, to click through (usually clicking on the headline in your newsfeed will automatically direct you to the appropriate webpage) and read the full article at the publisher’s website or blog.

Taking advantage of RSS feeds can simplify and streamline your web experience.  If you aren’t already using a newsreader for your favorite RSS feeds why not start today by subscribing to the SDA Newsblog?

For more information about RSS feeds, check out this Wikipedia entry.

Next installment:  Web 2.0 Part II: Social Networking Sites

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Brittany Conroy completed her bachelor’s degree in textile and apparel design at Michigan State University in 2008. Hand weaving, pattern- and dressmaking are her focus as she continues to explore the world of textiles, learn new surface design techniques and develop her artistic vision.

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1 Comment

  • Mary says

    September 3, 2010 at 9:20 am

    Excellent article. Very helpful.

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