Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is a family of file formats that is utilized for web syndication. It is normally used to automatically deliver newly posted content from web pages such as: blogs, forums and news sites, among others – to its readers. However, RSS is also useful for other things aside from delivering written content thanks to “enclosures” or media attachments.
Users who are subscribed to RSS feeds receive updates from their favorite websites
Podcasting is perhaps one of the most famous of the mentioned uses of RSS for content delivery. It is the method of distributing audio content by attaching audio files of spoken content to the RSS feed. Podcast’s popularity is helped in part by the very device on which the term was based – the iPod. Podcast is a combination of iPod and Broadcast. In its early stages, podcasts allowed users of handheld audio players such as the iPod to automatically download spoken content from independent internet-radio talk show publishers to their computers, and then listen to them on their iPods at a later time. The capability to “postpone“ listening to your favorite radio talk shows proved to be a very attractive feature and soon became a huge success.
Appcasting is a type of RSS feed that there are attached executable programs to regularly deliver new versions of software programs. Appcasting, though not as mainstream as podcasting and video blogs, is important and very significant, especially for those in the IT industry.
This new-found way of content delivery quickly evolved paving the way for additional multi-media file formats to be used as media enclosures. Image enclosures to RSS feeds opened a window of possibilities for sharing photos over the internet. Photo-sharing sites, such as Flickr, featured RSS feeds for people’s photos. Flickr’s RSS feed enabled people to subscribe to other peoples’ photo albums so that their favorite photographer’s latest shots or friend’s latest vacation pictures are automatically delivered to you as they are posted. Avid fans of online web comics also benefit from image enclosures to RSS. A reader can subscribe to a web comic’s RSS feed and daily updates are automatically delivered to the readers’ RSS syndicator of choice.