RSS stands for ‘Really Simple Syndication’ and is a way for users of a service to be notified automatically about new content that is available. Normally it is used with content that changes regularly, e.g. news, blog posts and so on. Typically an RSS feed will deliver headlines to the reader along with links back to the original site.
Sometimes you may hear of different types of RSS, such as RSS, RSS2 and Atom. Though the formats they use are different, the principle behind them is the same: pushing information about new content out to users.
RSS uses the concept of a ‘feeds’ and ‘readers’. A feed contains notifications about the new content and a reader monitors feeds and updates itself to show there is new content available. There are many different readers available, including software that runs on your PC, apps for your mobile device and even web page readers.
The presence of an RSS feed is normally indicated by this logo:
For example, this blog has two RSS feeds (one for posts and another for comments) which you can find on the right-hand side panel. You can add these feeds to any reader that you want and be notified when a new post or comment is published.
RSS feeds can be a powerful academic tool. For example, if you are working on a project and need to keep up to date with developments relating to the subject matter you could add RSS feeds from relevant blogs and news sites.