You’ve heard the RSS buzz and you figure you ought to do something about it. This hack introduces you to RSS and shows you how to start subscribing to RSS feeds today.
RSS is an XML vocabulary, now taking several forms. It first emerged from Netscape’s My Netscape Network in the late 1990s and has grown into a ubiquitous format for syndicating web content. Sites generate RSS documents that essentially are summaries of web sites and include, among other things, headlines, content descriptions, and links to web pages, blogs, and graphics.
At the moment, the most popular versions of RSS are the following (see http://www.syndic8.com/stats.php?Section=rss#RSSVersion):
RSS 0.91 [Hack #81] http://backend.userland.com/rss091 and http://www.scripting.com/netscapeDocs/RSS%200_91%20Spec,%20revision%203.html, also called Rich Site Summary
The political history of these specs takes a few twists and turns that I won’t get into here, except to say that there was a camp (Dave Winer, et al) that preferred simple markup over a more complex approach.
These RSS documents are treated as newsfeeds that can be aggregated or gathered by sites like http://www.bloglines.com, http://www.syndic8.com, and O’Reilly’s own http://www.oreillynet.com/meerkat/ ...