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The Origin of RSS and Podcasts

Pushing Content To Users Since March 1999

Steve Smith, host of your TQA Weekly, dives into the history of RSS, its usage and software solutions.

Episode #2-42 released on July 15, 2012

We are a society that expects content on demand, whether it be news, the latest YouTube episodes, your favorite podcasts, or any other media type, you expect it to come to you. Why? Because we have become expediently use to receiving information and media in this way. When you order a season pass on iTunes, episodes download or become available to you on demand, anywhere. When you subscribe to a YouTube channel, you get notification that the latest episode is ready for you at any time. When someone makes an update on a web-site, links to Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Myspace, etc... are created allowing the whole of the user and subscriber base to know about. And the reason for of all this, RSS.

RSS is more than just another type of language, it is an expression of Today. We have two types of way of delivering content, these are, push and pull. RSS, at it's core, is a combination of both. The content on web-sites or ready for download are made available to the RSS feed, which pushes out the content to all subscribers. You pull on the content when you read the messages within the feed. Some web-sites, including our own, run numerous dedicated RSS feeds for all sorts of content and topics.

So, how did RSS come to be? Who created it, and for what purpose? First, let's explain what RSS is at the core. RSS is XML. XML stands for the Extended Markup Language, which allows for extended functionality in co-operation with web-sites, media readers, software, databases, etc... It is almost alike to web-sites in the way it uses open and close tags to delineate content in an easily readable manner, either by humans or software. And much like HTML, or the Hyper Text Markup Language used to create web-sites, it is operating system independent.

RSS, previously named RDF Site Summary, also called Really Simple Syndication, was initially imagined by by Netscape in 1995, and became available in March of 1999 for use with my.netscape.com. At this time, many other web portals started adopting the RDF method and implementation of this technology allowed many web developers to be interested enough to allow users to add custom feeds of their content on the my.netscape.com web-site and others alike. In 2001, Netscape was acquired by AOL, and so died the participation in the RDF project that they themselves began. The my.netscape.com no longer supported, at that point, the RDF feeds, and they destroyed all documentation and support for this technology. This would be the end of RDF, or was it.

The project, during this time, was picked up by the RSS-DEV Working Group who were busy creating the new standards for the now named RSS 0.92 standard. And with many events at this time that include trademark issues, and standards compliance, we came to have today's RSS 2.0 standard, we all currently use today. I've included the link to the Wikipedia page for RSS in these show notes for those interested in the whole detailed history.

Needless to say, how does this affect any of us? You'd be surprised. Since the name of the game is to get yourself everywhere, and accessible to everyone. RSS is one of the few practical ways of getting your content around. It is relatively easy to code for, simple to understand, and can be generated automatically by any server side program in any language, as long as it outputs the correct information. We use a combination of PHP5 and MYSQL5, to generate the XML for the RSS feeds on our web-site.

What else can RSS be used for? Torrents. Much like iTunes with podcasts, some torrent clients are more than capable of using RSS and downloading the latest and greatest music, movies, episodes, audio and video podcasts, and much more.

Important to note that podcasts are only possible because of RSS feeds, and RSS is really made popular by the fact that many audio and video shows, podcasts, use RSS feeds to distribute their content to all their subscribers.

So, we have learned that RSS was created by Netscape, under the original name RDF, was picked up by the RSS-Dev Working Group, and can now be used to syndicate news, music, movies, show, podcasts, torrents, and more. How can we get this to work for us? Software. I've gotten a few Windows application suggestions, to allow you to do various tasks, links in show notes, or down below on YouTube.

Some software that can use RSS media to its full potential include, but are not limited to, Miro, iTunes, and uTorrent.

Next Week, we talk about stream lining the performance of your work computer.

Remember to like, share and subscribe to TQA Weekly. Head over to our newly rebuilt web-site at tqaweekly.com for the show notes of this episode, learn how to subscribe to our newsletter, get our Android Application, participate in our contests, weekly survey, and so much more.

Host : Steve Smith | Music : Jonny Lee Hart | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Productions

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