RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, and is a means of subscribing to a feed. For example, you can use a blog reader such as Google Reader and subscribe to the RSS feed of a number of blogs. You will then receive updates of those blogs without needing to visit each one.

RSS was more than a way to read blogs, however. Its significance was that it provided a format for open information, which the end user could mix and match. You could thus combine several RSS feeds in one place, such as feeds from a blog, the BBC news, a Google search on a particular subject, an open access journal. You could then search across all the feeds and create filters and so on to investigate data or to create your own information portal. This simple format made it easy for users to disseminate information as well as to manipulate and aggregate it.

As social networks became popular, they too started using RSS; for example, both Facebook and Twitter had easy RSS feeds for their systems. This meant that these feeds were open to end-user manipulation without having to visit their sites. Both of these sites have moved away from RSS recently, causing some to speculate that ‘RSS is deadExternal link ’ (Ingram, 2011) and that social networks are moving towards a more closed model of operation.

From the point of view of open education, the significance of RSS is that it represents a range of standards and approaches that were based on openness and easy sharing. These created the context within which open education could flourish.

Last modified: Friday, 15 March 2013, 4:00 PM