What is RSS and How Do I Use It?

The Internet is a big place. Really big. With more than a billion existing pages and thousands more being created each day, there’s a wealth of great sites offering fantastic content free of charge. But with such a massive torrent of media being produced each and every day, it can often be tough to keep up with all your favorite websites. So, how do we alleviate this problem? Easy. Here’s a really simple explanation of Really Simple Syndication (RSS).

What is RSS?

RSS is all about simplifying the way we view and digest content on the Internet. Web pages are typically multimedia experiences, with multiple columns of images, text, and advertisements. An RSS feed of a page strips the information down to the bare essentials — usually the main text content, main images, or in the case of podcasts and video channels, the content itself.

By reducing the desired content down to just what you really want, you can enjoy it on a larger number of platforms without worrying about compatibility or display issues. It also allows you to keep track of when new content is posted without requiring you to refresh the blog or podcast page every 10 minutes until something new appears.

How does RSS work?

Rather than paying upwards of 100 bucks for a DVR like TiVo, you can start using RSS for free — all you need is a valid Internet connection and a program called an RSS aggregator.

An RSS aggregator, also known as feed reader, is a program that runs in the background and constantly waits for your favorite sites to post new content. When something new pops up on a site you’re subscribed to, it instantaneously gets sent to your feed reader.

Typically, aggregators come in two varieties; they can be Web-based or desktop-based. There are also a number of programs and add-ons that provide RSS functionality to email clients and Web browsers. Once you’ve installed a feed reader, you can get started.

Available RSS Feeds

Name   Link
Emergency and Disaster Information
Epidemic and Biology Hazard Warning Message
Tsunami Information
UV Index in the USA
Earth Approaching Objects (NASA NEO)
Earthquake Report > M 2.4