Monday, January 31, 2005
(Updated Feb. 1, 1:45 p.m.) Is this a trend? Last year the city of Knoxville website started sending out news with a "Really Simply Syndication" RSS feed. A few weeks ago the UT Daily Beacon started an RSS feed. Today the News Sentinel had an article about RSS,
which would be a good quick intro if you're new to this weblog and are
still going "huh?" after seeing the abbreviation three times in one
paragraph. Also today, early-adopter SouthKnoxBubba pointed out that WBIR-TV (Channel 10) has its own feed.
After a quick check, I discovered that WATE-TV (Channel 6) does have its own local and regional feeds now, as well as sharing some headlines with its sister station WKRN in Nashville, whose feed I wrote about a few months ago.
Back at Channel 10, along with the usual news and sports headlines, WBIR's RSS feeds include one for the station's "Style"
program, so you can be alerted to the "Monday Makeover" or news that
some states are thinking of taxing cosmetic surgery. Not exactly the
stuff I want up-to-the-minute alerts about, but I've never been accused
of being stylish.
So far these TV station RSS feeds are just text headlines or short
story summaries. Elsewhere the RSS and weblog communities are sharing
ideas about audio and video subscriptions via RSS. See, for instance ipodder.org for audio examples, including some from National Public Radio. If your connection can handle big video files, see the video blog Rocketboom.com and ANT, which is short for "antnotv.org."
The News Sentinel is at least spreading the word about RSS in today's "Net-working" column by Joel B. Southern of the UT School of Information Sciences.
Does that mean the paper is planning to roll out its own RSS headline
feeds? Not immediately. I didn't see any telltale orange XML tags
to "subscribable" KnoxNews.com content, so I dropped the webmaster
a line asking whether a feed is coming soon. His reply was that "RSS is
something we'd like to see available," but that other projects have
higher priority right now. (More on this in the message comments.)
While The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor and BBC were
early adopters of RSS, many ad-supported sites have hesitated. As UT
colleague Matt Grayson told Joel, "many commercial news sites were
initially afraid they would lose traffic to their Web sites, but adding
an RSS feature has actually added traffic to many sites."
Of course turning "traffic" into "revenue" is another issue for-profit publishers. The New York Times has made headlines
recently by saying it's considering charging non-subscribers for
Web content that has been free for the past decade. For now, both its
nytimes.com site and RSS feeds are still free.
For newcomers, here's how Joel sums up the benefits of subscribing to RSS feeds:
"Technology-savvy people today who want to keep
their finger on the pulse of global information are using Really Simple
Syndication 'aggregators' to perform their information gathering for
He also provides a link to the School of Information Sciences "What is RSS?" page.
A link to my own old essay on the same subject lurks in the
left column of my weblog page, and can serve as an example of the
difference between using a browser and an aggregator: Reading in an
aggregator, you may get headlines, summaries or full text from the
sending site, but you don't get to see standard webpage features, which
would include most of the advertising and menus on a commercial site
This just in: Updating this page on Feb. 1, I chanced upon another UT RSS intro by John B. Rose, and a rich collection of RSS feeds from the UT Libraries, including one for the Environmental Semester news page. UT isn't the only school in Tennessee getting into RSS: Bryan College
in Dayton, for one, has a page of RSS feeds (and the history of the
college makes for fascinating reading to any fan of "Inherit the
Wind"). Use of RSS in higher education does appear to be evolving.
In my case, this blog's RSS feed delivers the full text of today's blog
posts, but you don't get to see the left column of links. You can click
through to the full page,
but you don't have to. For aggregator users, here are a few related
links you're missing, part of my site's usual left-column stack of
links: What are RSS and that orange XML thing? and last summer's reviews of aggregators and more aggregators.
Here's another RSS intro and collection of reviews at CNET. (Because folks have asked, my own current choices for RSS readers are the one built into my Radio weblogging software and the Sage plug-in for the Firefox browser. My collection of feed subscriptions at Bloglines.com needs pruning now, but was a great way to explore a lot of feeds.)
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7/19/08; 1:02:10 PM.