What is RSS? RSS allows you to "subscribe" to content on the web and have it delivered to you directly via an RSS Feed. Think of subscribing to an RSS Feed a bit like you would subscribe to a paper magazine but rather than the magazine being delivered by post it is delivered to you electronically. An RSS Feed is also different in that a given magazine may have several RSS Feeds, each one focusing on different subject matter e.g. news, sport, health etc. So this enables you to subscribe to just those parts of the magazine in which you are interested.
Yet another difference is that although a paper magazine may be published say once a week an RSS Feed may be published every day or even several times day, So for a given feed you have a stream of 'articles' flowing to you in near real time.
There are other differences too. In the paper world your magazine consists of 'articles' i.e. mainly text but in the world of RSS an RSS Feed is multimedia and may be text, audio, video, photos, documents, calendar events and more.
So as you may be beginning to realize RSS, is very powerful indeed.
What is an RSS Feed? RSS Feeds are not limited to magazines - this was just a convenient example in the introduction above. RSS Feeds are provided by most websites and are quickly becoming a standard feature. Most major news sites such as the BBC and CNN for example offer them as a service. They are also offered by the vast majority of blogs and many other websites. For example, I provide over a dozen feeds from this website.
RSS Readers The first thing you need in order to access RSS feeds is a news reader. This is sometimes also known as a news aggregator. There are several kinds of news readers, some are web-based and used through your browser while you need to download others and run them on your PC.
I would strongly recommend Google Reader . It is web-based and it is free.
Finding RSS Feeds Once you’ve found a reader you like, you simply have to find the feeds you’d like to subscribe to. Look for this icon or a similar one or a small orange box on a website that says XML or the words "RSS" or "RSS Feed" or "News feed" and click on it.
Subscribing to RSS Feeds In the case of large organizations, like CNN for example, when you click the Feed icon or link, you'll be taken to a page with a set of instructions, and a list of RSS news feed URLs that you can copy and paste into your news reader.
For most feeds though, you'll be taken to a page that looks like gibberish. This is OK - you are looking at the feed itself - you are not meant to be able to read it - your newsreader will make sense of it and display it for you. All you have to do now is copy and paste the URL of the feed from address bar of your web browser into your news reader. Your newsreader will provide more information about how to do this if this explanation is not clear.
Reading your Feeds Whenever you run your news reader you will be able to read the feeds you have subscribed to. The reader will automatically keep them up to date for you. Most readers will keep tabs of what you have read and what you have not read - a bit like your email program so that you can easily distinguish what is new and what you have already read.
Video: RSS in Plain English