RSS: Feeds by the dozen

RSS: Feeds by the dozen

Summary: Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is a lightweight publishing protocol that allows blogs and other news sources to make their content available to newsreaders. A newsreader lets you painlessly click through the aggregated contents of dozens of RSS feeds without the inconvenience (infeasibility, really) of repeatedly visiting dozens of web sites.

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TOPICS: Tech Industry
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Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is a lightweight publishing protocol that allows blogs and other news sources to make their content available to newsreaders. A newsreader lets you painlessly click through the aggregated contents of dozens of RSS feeds without the inconvenience (infeasibility, really) of repeatedly visiting dozens of web sites. Among the many feeds you may find professionally-produced packages on business, technology, sports, consumer electronics, entertainment, science, health, etc.

So what?

RSS feeds are a fascinating development because they persuade people to ask for large amounts of push-based content. How many of us subscribe to more than a handful of (pushy) e-mail newsletters? And yet some people are cheerfully picking up RSS feeds by the dozen. What's different? It may be very simple: RSS entries don't clog your inbox--they are automatically routed to a separate set of folders. And unlike most newsgroups, most RSS feeds have a single author, which significantly reduces the amount of garbage you have to wade through. But whatever the reason for its success, enterprises would be foolish to ignore this powerful channel by which to reach stakeholders. Speaking of which, Accenture Technology Labs has developed an interactive screen saver that lets you follow multiple RSS feeds. It's very cool, though it does "lock down" a feed from (guess who?) Accenture Technology Labs. Check it out for yourself.

Topic: Tech Industry

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  • It's not PUSH if the client has to PULL it

    I'm not sure the RSS evangelist crowd has really thought through the implications of the technology.

    [b]RSS isn't push technology.[/b] Push is when the server delivers content to you as it becomes available. There *might* be a polling mechanism involved on the client end, but only to keep the connection alive.

    [b]Pull technologies like RSS impact both the server and the client.[/b] Obviously the client has to have some mechanism for looking in a variety of places for new content. But less apparent is the fact that RSS is server-intensive - every client who subscribes to your feed is going to poll your server for the latest version of each RSS feed. Likely your RSS service builds its content dynamically - on the fly as a request comes in - with a script and will chew up server cycles each time the script is invoked. Just wait until you have thousands of subscribers who poll every few minutes, whether that's appropriate or not. With Pull, you don't have control over the polling interval.

    I suspect the next strong step forward in this space will be RSS aggregation - a service that polls RSS feeds for you periodically and consolidates the results, plus a mechanism for RSS servers like yours to allow requests ONLY from such aggregators.
    GDF