What is RSS and Why it is better and safer than Email for content delivery

Technorati is currently tracking about 50 million blogs. The size of the blogosphere has doubled almost every five months over the last year and a half as per Technorati statistics. More and more people are starting to rely on internet for news, content, music, social gatherings and communication needs. And keeping up to date with the information and content on internet is quite a task. It is simply not possible to go every web site or blog and look for  updates.

Wouldn't it be better to have the latest news and content that you want delivered directly to you, rather than clicking from site to site? A resounding YES, I bet. Good news is that it is possible. The technology that make it happen is called RSS, Really Simple Syndication.  At the heart RSS is simply a format of the file that delivers updates to content on web. But, with a small application like a RSS reader, the whole world changes. It allows you to see when sites from all over the internet have added new content. You can get the latest headlines, articles, MP3s,  photographs, video.....  in one place, as soon as they are published, without you ever having to bookmark and visit each site every day and look for updates.

It takes the hassle out of staying up-to-date, by showing you the very latest information that you are interested in. You can subscribe for such updates through e-mail, but with RSS you are in full control of what you want, when you want it. Email subscription also brings in with it the headache of spam. And consider your email public and sold to marketers once you register at most web sites. And if you don't like the email subscription, you have to go through series of web pages to unsubscribe. But RSS provides all the flexibility of email without the headaches. You don't have to give out your email address to anybody. So expect no spam. And no more annoying popups and sliding images. And you don't have to search for content in between advertisements. No threats from cookies and spying headaches. You can subscribe any moment you want it. And if you don't like the feed you can remove it just in a flash.  And, there are lots of utilities that can create your own news paper or web page out of your own RSS feeds, like MyYahoo or Google personalized home page. It saves so much time.

While it is possible for the content providers to add ads and unwanted content in the feed, it is much easier and safer to delete the unwanted content automatically by the reader. Most readers do not handle any content other than text and pictures. So it is quite safe.. What the heck, if it is too much of a concern, you can just remove your subscription itself in the reader. No more issues what so ever.

You can store all your RSS subscriptions on the web if you like just like email through applications like bloglines and pluck. If you like the convenience and fastness of outlook, you have desktop applications to read the feeds like Feedreader, Newsgator. And you have the best of both worlds, through applications like blogbridge which is a desktop application that can run on any platform and stores all your feed information on web. Blogbridge also synchronizes your feeds. That means, if you read it once at home, that won't appear as new item when you open next time from say office or library.

Many web sites and almost all blogs offer content available as RSS feeds. Most of the web browsers can even detect and alert you that there is an RSS feed available whenever you visit a web page.

You can read more about RSS at "What the heck is RSS?" by Copyblogger.  If you are hungry for more, Wiki explains RSS in much detail and the whole romantic history behind RSS here.

If you are already subscribing to RSS feeds or providing RSS feeds, and the following facts compiled in this post, "RSS Marketing - Is it just hype? or the next best channel?" would be of interest to you.
RSS is currently used or is planned to be used within the next 12 months by 63% of consumer product marketers, 65% media and communications marketers, 37% retail marketers, 37% financial services marketers and 38% equipment and tech marketers.

Update: I changed the title to include 'content delivery' after receiving comments from readers that the title is misleading. I intent to say that RSS is better than email for content delivery. The discussion on the post also convey the same. Email has lot more uses than just content delivery. Sorry for the confusion.

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Kevin said…
Email can be personalized for each user while delivering the content, while RSS will be one public feed available at website. This could be a turn-off for personalized content delivery.
Murali said…
While on the surface, it looks like one feed for all, it is not true. RSS feed can be personalized and can be specific to a given user. For example, Netflix's personalized feeds of your own queue, most recent rental activity, movies at home and recommendations are personalized and just for you.
[...] RSS feeds comes to rescue again, atleast to an extent. ( Read more about RSS Feeds at What is RSS and Why it is better and safer than Email for content delivery ). RSS feeds just contain the blog posts. Nothing else.  No banner ads. No photo galleries. No background images. No layout designs. Just plain posts. But RSS feeds are formatted as XML documents, which your mobile phone can not render to a readable format. (like Internet Explorer on the desktop).  Infact, Feeds are only  meant to be read by machines/applications. So we need [...]

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