2 thoughts on “RSS in plain English

  1. This explanation is good for defining what’s happening conceptually with RSS feeds- but it’s a little bit misleading about the mechanics of how that information is delivered.
    Of course, Steve, you already know this, but for the benefit of your immense blog audience ;-) – It’s not simply “turning the arrows around” so the sites are sending updates to the audience. The audience’s reader software still has to reach out and get the updated information from each site in-turn, digest it, compare what’s new to what’s already been read, and display the aggregated results.
    Further, the explanation seems to imply that the means of access to RSS is limited to that which can be implemented in another web site, which sort of short-changes the true utility of RSS to be implemented in any piece of software; a standalone reader, a search agent like DEVONAgent, small device software on telephones and watches– there’s a lot that is getting glazed over.
    But of course, this is my classic failing when it comes to helping users to help themselves… I assume people will want the whole picture, when in fact trying to explain it all at once will overwhelm. Limiting options in a toolkit or details in an explanation is what puts highfalootin technology within the grasp of regular folks. This is empowerment, which is really what we’re after, even if it’s delivered in small bites.
    I suppose my objection is based in a sort of James Burke (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Burke_%28science_historian%29) philosophy- I don’t want people to take technology for granted, especially when it’s likely they will come to depend upon it and look to people like me to develop and maintain it. But, that may be asking for too much.

  2. Ah Hah! Finally I understand!
    My brain always seemed to tune-out when I head about “RSS feeds” but now it makes sense.
    Maybe part of the problem is the name itself. RSS Feeds sounds like some form of networking protocol that I will never understand. It needs a better name. For example, Bluetooth is sexier and easier to remember than IEEE 802.15.1 and Firewire is easier than IEEE 1394 High Speed Serial Bus. Firewire and Bluetooth are terms that Apple adopted to promote this technology.
    I suggest we need a new word for RSS feeds.

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