What You Don’t Know Can’t Hurt You, But It Can Hold You Back

With this site’s primary purpose being website and internet promotion (albeit through the search engines), I thought I’d take a break from the normal posts and introduce some new technology that is set to break internet barriers in the upcoming months. While it is away from the search engine topic, it does have its roots in website promotion and content management. So here it goes…

Imagine you are a new internet business owner and you are working on the content of your website. You don’t yet have the time or experience to write all the sales copy and product information (if you are selling someone else’s product, which is normally the case). What would you do as far as the content? You want the information to be accurate, up to date, and as low maintenance as possible and you don’t want to have to copy and paste articles and information searching for author permission to do so.

Here’s another position: Imagine you are a free-lance reporter and you are looking to get your information quickly without having to wade through tons of sources to find the information that you need. You need information to be as up to date and reliable as possible because your income is depending upon it. You also need a way to distribute your article and information just as quickly. What do you do?

Or imagine that you own a blog, just like this one, and you have pertinent information that you feel could help people grow their businesses or change their lives without having to have them come directly to your website. You want it to be easy for them to get your information. What do you do?

Or imagine that you have a mailing list of people and the auto responder costs are getting to be too high and it’s too difficult to switch to a new one lest your mailing list subscribers have to opt-in again. You want to cut your cost but still be able to have the subscribers gain access to what you have to say. What do you do?

The answer to all of these is the same thing. For years there has been a technology based on this, but it has not gained interest until recently when the technology has been picked up by the blogs and by Microsoft itself (more on that later). The technology is called RSS or “real simple syndication”. The application is simple: You create an xml file with short or abridged information regarding real content on your website that you have created and when subscribers download the information from that xml file, they are able to access that information without having to go through your website.

In short, you are telling your rss subscribers about the most important or most recent information available on your website without them having to receive an e-mail about it or have to trek through some of the many pages on your site to find it.

What’s the application for you? Simple (and that’s not just a play on words), you have a website right? You either have information that you want to get out or you have a need for information in the form of content on your site. Either way, whatever you do on the internet, whether giving or receiving information, you can use RSS.

For the internet business owner who needs content on his/her site, you can use rss to add targeted content onto your website by using a parser and that information changes as soon as the rss feed owner updates his/her file. Fresh content, relevant, accurate (to a degree) and timely; what more could you want. With a few slight modifications to your code you could be receiving this informational content automatically.

And even if you aren’t that savvy about the guts of your website, there are alternatives that offer the same benefit. For instance, if you didn’t have the time or the desire to set up the rss parser for your site, you can just as easily request a javascript feed of the same information.

Also, there are rss readers available for personal use on your computer. Imagine having all the information that you might normally receive in email or spend time searching the internet to read, already at your fingertips as quickly as you can click the synchronize button. It’s that simple. RSS is making it easier and less time consuming to get the information that you need.

So, for a reporter who needs to collate his/her information very fast without having to search a lot of sources on the internet, rss can be a very helpful tool. All that information is available as soon as they need it.

And for the blog author, like me, rss feeds allow us to get our information to a mass of people without using email (avoiding spam filters) and thus saving us the time and money of auto responders. Plus, there are services available that can help you track the number of users that subscribe to your feed

RSS is definitely going to change the face of informational management as we know it (in part it already has), but the knowledge of this technology is still in its most primitive form. But there are many large prominent web sites that currently make use of the new technology mainly MSN and MSNBC, and a lot of smaller websites are adapting the technology for their use to give them a leg up before the rest of the world catches on.

While the technology might not be as well known today, information grows rapidly throughout the internet. New information, for example has come from Microsoft that their new Internet Explorer 7 (now in Beta) and their new operating system Vista (also in Beta) will enable rss to become a reality. Right now, the plans are in the making to make rss a part of their technology allowing users to download and subscribe to rss feeds quickly and easily.

And once you have been able to set up and understand a little of the XML language, editing and posting your own rss feed becomes as small as updating information on your site, quick and easy.

Right now, there is a growing wealth of information available on the subject of rss. Your best source of information is your own research. While many website have small bits about it, others can give you step by step techniques for making it the best used technology you have available