When I first started reading blogs, I was overwhelmed by the amount of new information being created and found myself baffled, wondering how to keep up. I was relieved to learn about RSS (what Will Richardson refers to as “The Killer App for Educators”) and feed aggregators, also known as feed readers or news readers. RSS, which stands for Real Simple Syndication, is a technology that can simplify life with the internet and deeply enhance the quality of information we receive. (For a clear explanation of RSS, see this CommonCraft video from YouTube.)
Blogs (and many other internet sites) generate a feed (marked by a small box labelled RSS) that allows readers to subscribe to the content that is created on that site. What this means is I no longer have to check each of my favourite blogs for new information. With Real Simple Syndication, the information comes to me. When I use an aggregator to subscribe to the RSS (sometimes labelled XML) feed of a blog, new information from that blog automatically appears in my aggregator.
Aggregators, like Bloglines or Google Reader greatly reduce the time and effort needed to regularly check websites for updates, creating a unique information space or personalized news collection. The aggregator provides a consolidated view of the content in a single browser display.