Elisabeth M. Long
What It Is
How It Works
How To Use It

Consider a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanized private file and library. It needs a name, and to coin one at random, ``memex'' will do. A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory...

RSS: What It Is

RSS: How It Works

Basic Overview

  1. The Producer
    ...Most of the memex contents are purchased on microfilm ready for insertion. Books of all sorts, pictures, current periodicals, newspapers, are thus obtained and dropped into place....
    • creates an XML file using one of the many RSS standards (see above)
    • places it on his website
    • Advertises its existence typical xml image typical rss image typical rdf image and lists it on major RSS directories
  2. The User
    ...When the user is building a trail, he names it, inserts the name in his code book, and taps it out on his keyboard....It is exactly as though the physical items had been gathered together to form a new book. It is more than this, for any item can be joined into numerous trails....
    • Installs or subscribes to one of several types of RSS feed readers (The Open Directory Project maintains a list of open source readers)
    • Finds interesting RSS feeds
      • reader software's Find Feeds function
      • search engines and directory listings (Fagan Finder)
      • Auto-discovery (software to scan web pages for RSS feeds and prompt for subscription)
    • Subscribes to the feed

The Details

  1. Producing RSS XML
    • Producing RSS XML simply means making the contents of your website, or portions of that content, available in RSS XML format as a separate web-accessible page. Some producers include the entire conent in their RSS feed while others include just headlines and maybe summaries.
      • Most blogging software automatically produce an RSS feed (e.g., DLDC weblog)
      • HTML to RSS converter programs (web-based or downloadable) can produce an RSS feed from your HTML
      • customized convertors or content mangament systems that produce both HTML and RSS allows finer control over exactly what content is syndicated.
    • The RSS XML is relatively simple (depending somewhat, of course, on which standard you are following...)
    • the basic tag structure of v.2.0 is as follows: (example is not all-inclusive)
    • A sample XML file (v2.0) and the resulting page in an RSS reader
    • Validating RSS
      • There are several RSS validators available, some are web-based and some downloadable
  2. Reading RSS
    • RSS Readers
      • Two main types of RSS readers:
        • Web-based (e.g. Bloglines
        • Software installed on users machine
      • Creating an RSS Reader is more complicated than producing a feed because of the need to conditionally handle the various RSS specs currently in use
    • RSS feeds in HTML
      • javascript can be used to call an external parser to display a feed within a web page
      • Web-based javascript producers let you enter an RSS URL, set some look-and-feel parameters, and click a button to produce the code which you can copy into your webpage (e.g., Feedroll or RSS-Box Viewer)
    • Other ways to read RSS
      • Desktop headline displayer app (like a ticker tape)
      • download to mobile device (PDA, cell phone)
      • Instant messaging programs
      • Emailed headlines
  3. Sharing Lists of News Feeds with OPML
    ...And his trails do not fade. Several years later, his talk with a friend turns to....So he sets a reproducer in action, photographs the whole trail out, and passes it to his friend for insertion in his own memex, there to be linked into the more general trail.
    ~Vannevar Bush - As We May Think, 1945
    • The group of news feeds one subscribes to can be described using OPML (an XML format for outlines)
    • Most RSS readers can import and export OPML files so that people can share their news subscriptions
    • Weblogs with RSS news feeds often automatically publish an OPML version
    • OPML import/export is also useful if you change RSS readers

RSS: How To Use It

  1. Keeping up with the news (national news and professional news)
  2. Examples of Library content that could be syndicated:
  3. Using information from an RSS feed on a web page

Find Out More...

  1. RSS 2.0 Spec
  2. RSS Workshop Do it yourself - producing RSS for others to use
  3. All About RSS
  4. What is RSS
  5. RSS FAQ