Betting on RSS

Amy Syracuse

Some experts say the trouble with Really Simple Syndication (RSS), the XML format that delivers dynamic information online, is branding. Poor public understanding of a low-level technical format — the Internet equivalent of plumbing — and the perception of a “tech geek” audience have led to sluggish adoption rates. Of course, the technology's overly techie acronym hasn't helped either.

However, advancements in hardware and software and a broader range of available content are pushing RSS and its capabilities to the forefront of Internet users' collective consciousness. “RSS is like SMTP, the protocol underlying the e-mail system,” says Greg Reinacker, founder and chief technical officer of NewsGator, a Denver-based RSS platform company. “There are probably a billion people in the world using e-mail, and I bet the number that know anything about SMTP is a million or less. It doesn't matter. You can get all the benefits without knowing the tech terms.”