Because a computer illiterate friend asked me to…


Here’s “Rob’s Really Easy Description of Scary Internet Words Like RSS, Syndication, FeedReaders, PingServers, etc”


First, forget ALL of those terms.  ALL OF THEM.

You don’t need to know them.  You need to know only a few simple things – see this icon:





This icon means someone is publishing something – most modern browsers (Flock, FireFox, Opera, the new Internet Explorer 7) all recognize sites that supply this icon as “having something they are publishing”.

Basically, all that means is that you can “subscribe” to that information – much like you would subscribe to a newspaper.  When you subscribe to a newspaper they deliver it to you – you don’t have to go down to the newspaper company and read it. 

“Feeds” work pretty much just like that – you can “subscribe” to a web site and never have to visit it again – the content is “delivered to you” (I know that’s not technically correct, but it works for my description – in reality your feed reader asks the web site if they have anything new for you – if they do, you get it in your feed reader (below)).

To “read your subscription” you need a “feed reader” – this can be software that runs on a web site, or it can be a stand-alone application.  Or it can be your browser (assuming it’s one of the one’s I mentioned above – and some others I am sure I am leaving out, like Safari for the Mac).

That’s basically it – don’t let the acronyms and confusing naming conventions scare you off – this is pretty simple stuff.

Need something else cleared up?  Did I confuse you more or leave something out (I am NOT talking to all of you geeks out there!).  If you need more help – please ask… you really need to “get this” because it’s important!




  1. You very well explained rss readers. Good job.
    Now explain ping servers, track backs, podcasting and wiki’s.