Tech Xpress

Orkut gets RSS feeds; but what are feeds?

It is a well-known fact that a big percentage of web users still don't know what that orange coloured icon is supposed to do, even though it's been around for quite some time.
Hopefully, that will change and feeds will get wider acceptance with Orkut integration.

That Orange icon is actually a 'feed' link
A lot of web sites provide a feed url, and the orange icon represents that link. A feed brings web site content to you.
Web sites use feeds to provide, promote and distribute their content. Feeds are used on those sites that update content frequently. This includes news websites, blogs etc

Reading a Feed
A 'feed Reader' or 'feed aggregator' must be used to read feed content. Once the user provides a web site's feed link to a reader (this is called subscribing to a feed), the reader will check for new content and consequently download updates if it finds any.

Feed Readers
For beginners, an example of a feed reader is Firefox's built-in Live bookmarks feature. Internet Explorer 7.0 and Opera also has built-in feed readers. Subscribing from browsers that have a built-in feed reader is easy; one only has to click the orange icon and the browser will try to subscribe to that feed.
Google Reader is another popular web based feed reader.

Image: A Firefox Live Bookmark example

Basically, one uses feeds to keep track of their favourite websites.
For eg. A user who has subscribed to a Tech Xpress or BBC feed, need not visit those web sites manually every time to check what's new. The feed reader will show some part or whole of the content from these sites and users can choose to view only the articles that interest them.

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posted by Vijeesh Ravindran, Sunday, June 03, 2007