The average online user is one savvy cookie, taking the art of multitasking to the extreme. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, email, online shopping, music downloads… and occasionally all at the same time.
Consider, if you will, how the savvy user gets their news. Rather than manually going to five or six or thirty new sites to keep up on current events or to get the latest information on their favorite product or to read the latest post by their favorite blogger, our uber user relies on an RSS news feeds list to deliver all the most relevant content front and center, no searching or updating necessary. Any news feed websites provide can be linked to automatically notify our user of updates, often times without even needing to click away from whatever picture of a funny cat has currently captivated their attention.
But what is an RSS feed? RSS stands for “Rich Site Summary”, though the commonly coined substitute “Really Simple Syndication” might give a better description. While magazines articles, newspaper articles, or television shows can be syndicated (that is, published in several places at the same time), news feeds for websites exist in a nearly perpetual state of syndication, rarely if ever appearing in only one place. Content writers add news feed to websites (or news feed for websites, if a writer writes for more than one place), and readers can easily “subscribe” to any news RSS feed lists send out, from new recipes to political headlines to blog posts.
Nearly every web browser contains a way to not only subscribe to feeds but to aggregate feeds into one notification scheme. So even as you subscribe to a news feed for Website A, a breaking story from Website B can pop onto your screen, even though you may not have visited Website B since the initial time you signed up for their RSS news feed. And now both your news feed for Website A and your news feed for Website B will appear in your aggregated news feed, perhaps even while you sign up for a news feed for Website C.
As information continues to pour onto the Internet, it might be not just convenient but very nearly necessary to rely on RSS news feeds to streamline your news gathering. Otherwise you could spend your entire lunch break sifting through countless bookmarks to check sites that might not even have any new content, and what time then for Facebook? Or lunch?