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Get the Internet on Your Own Terms

Sep 7, 2007
RSS for the Rest of Us

I don't know about you, but I'm seeing a whole bunch of articles and websites telling me that I need to get into this RSS thing.

Is it really time?

RSS (it stands for "Really Simple Syndication") is the latest wave of internet technology designed to take advantage of the "Content is King" mentality. Imagine getting direct access to the content you want, without having to give out your personal information. Wouldn't that be nice?

Here's how it works: You find a website you like and look for the little orange XML button, or a link that says "Syndicate this site". When you click that link, you get the raw feed of content from that site.

An example:
My Simplified Selling site allows you to syndicate my content. That means you don't have to remember to visit my site to discovers articles of interest, but instead they are fed to your preferred RSS reader (more on this in a moment) at your behest.

That means you no longer have to open your browser and visit a particular website to see what's new, to find out if anything interesting has been posted. All you have to do is open your RSS reader and content from all over the web is gathered into one place and presented for your review. An RSS reader is one-stop shopping for online information.

RSS Readers
There are hundreds of RSS readers on the market. You can collect RSS Feeds on your "My Yahoo!" page, or your "MyMSN" page. Current, updated content from your preferred sites is presented for your reading pleasure. Check the first few lines and if you're interested, just click and you are instantly transported to that particular article. No more hunting around on a site looking for an article you like.

Newsgator (www.newsgator.com) is a third-party add-in that turns your Outlook mail client into an RSS reader. Not to be outdone, Microsoft has incorporated an RSS reader into the latest release of Outlook.

You can also get stand-alone RSS readers from Bloglines (www.bloglines.com) and RSSReader.com (www.rssreader.com). A quick Google search for "RSS Reader" returned over 2 million pages. You'll have no trouble finding an RSS reader that you like.

But why?
That's really the question. Of course we know why the internet folks want you to subscribe to their content, but why would the average websurfer want to go through the hassle of setting up and subscribing to RSS feeds?

Privacy
RSS feeds are more private than newsletters. Unlike when you subscribe to newsletters (where you must give your email address to the content provider so that the information can be emailed to you) when you subscribe to RSS Feeds, you don't have to give your email address (or any personal information) to the site owner, because they aren't mailing you their information.

Something to consider - it is possible that content providers will start asking for personal information when subscribing to an RSS feed. It hasn't happened yet, so subscribe today before they start!

Portability
When I change email addresses or work on a different computer, I don't lose the content I like, because my RSS reader is keeping track of the content I want to see - without the involvement of the content provider. It's like radio stations on your Walkman. The station manager doesn't know when you change the station and if you move across town, you don't lose the stations. It's all in your Walkman. When you're using an online RSS reader (like My Yahoo! or MyMSN), your subscriptions are available from any computer, anywhere in the world.

No 'Unsubscribe' Headaches
When I'm tired of getting a newsletter, I am required to contact the publisher and "unsubscribe" to make the mailing stop. With RSS, you don't have to interact with the website owner to get off the list. Simply click the button in your RSS reader and it will stop collecting data from that site. You are in complete control.

No More Spam
Today, RSS is pure content. Because you didn't give out your email address to subscribe, you know that you won't get spammed. The internet folks have an incentive to keep the feed relatively ad-free. While you're reading their content in your RSS reader, if the content stops being interesting or becomes non-stop pitching, it is very easy for the reader (you) to disconnect. Most of these folks would rather keep you tuned in than to lose you forever.

Think of it like television. If "CSI: Crime Scene Investigations" becomes a long series of commercials and no plot, people will change the channel, many never to return. So the producers see to it that they have interesting content that keeps viewers returning for more. RSS will likely follow the same route.

Get yourself an RSS reader and start subscribing to feeds today. You'll get the internet on your own terms.
About the Author
Chris Ellington gives effective and easy to implement marketing strategies to small business owners and home business entrepreneurs. His Simplified Selling System has been a favorite of salespeople around the world. Get your free marketing strategies at www.simplifiedselling.com.
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