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RSS: Glossary


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Atom is an XML-based file format used to syndicate content. From a user perspective, Atom is functionally nearly identical to RSS in terms of providing a feed for a subscription..

An audiocast is audio content that is broadcast over the Internet. The term serves as a broad descriptor of any audio content, including streaming audio, podcasts or other distribution methods .

A blog (short for Weblog ) is a personal online journal that is frequently updated and intended for general public consumption. Blogs are defined by their format: a series of entries posted to a single page in reverse-chronological order. Blogs generally represent the personality of the author or reflect the purpose of the Web site that hosts the blog.

A channel is a group of items, each of which represents one post, for instance a blog post or MP3 audio file. When subscribing to podcast s, it is the channel to which you subscribe. Channel is used interchangeably with feed on many Web sites.

Chicklet is a slang term for the small, often orange buttons used as links to RSS files. Most podcatchers allow a user to "drag and drop" chicklets directly onto them to easily add a subscription.

Creative Commons
The Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that offers flexible copyright licenses for creative works, including tools and guidance for artists and authors who wish to release some rights to their material under certain conditions while still maintaining copyright. See Creative for more information.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act ( DMCA )
The DMCA is a controversial United States digital rights management ( DRM ) law enacted October 28, 1998 by then-President Bill Clinton. The intent behind DMCA was to create an updated version of copyright laws to deal with the special challenges of regulating digital material. Broadly, the aim of DMCA is to protect the rights of both copyright owners and consumers.

Digitization is the process of converting information into a digital format . In this format, information is organized into discrete units of data (called bit s) that can be separately addressed (usually in multiple-bit groups called bytes ). This is the binary data that computers and many devices with computing capacity (such as digital camera s and digital hearing aid s) can process.

An enclosure is the portion of an RSS feed that links to multimedia files to be including along with each item, specifically the audio file used for the podcast. Podcast clients identify enclosures and automatically download them. An enclosure might look like this:
<enclosure url="" length="10306438" type="audio/mpeg" />

Encoding is the process of putting a sequence of character s (letters, numbers, punctuation, and certain symbols) into a specialized format for efficient transmission or storage. In podcasting terms, encoding often refers to the conversion of recorded audio files into MP3 for upload and distribution.

fair use
Fair use is a legal concept that allows the reproduction of copyrighted material for certain purposes without obtaining permission and without paying a fee or royalty. Purposes permitting the application of fair use generally include review, news reporting, teaching, or scholarly research. The idea of fair use originally arose for written works. With the advent of digital technology and the Internet, fair use has also been applied to the redistribution of music, photographs, videos and software.

An XML file that is meant to be read by an aggregator. A feed may also be called a channel.

feed validator

A feed validator is software that examines the XML code of a feed and indicates whether it is correctly implemented, usually by comparing it against a specification like RSS 2.0.

Flock is an open source Web browser with advanced features, based on the Firefox code and released for preview in October 2005 by a group of developers in Palo Alto, California.

intellectual property
Intellectual property (IP) is a legal term for describing various rights or entitlements that apply to the ownership, and thus use, of certain types of information, ideas or other concepts in an expressed form.

An item is a single entry in a news feed or podcast channel. Each item contains an enclosure that links to the audio file for the podcast, including ID3 tags.

iTunes is Apple's multimedia player software, including a store where users can download music, videos, television shows and podcasts. Along with ripping, organ zing and playing multimedia files, iTunes links to a directory of podcasts and acts as a podcatcher by allowing users to subscribe to podcasts.

Juice is a free program that can automatically download new shows when they become available and synchronize them with portable digital audio players. Formerly called "iPodder."

Metadata is a definition or description of data

MIME (Multi-Purpose Internet Mail Extensions) is an extension of the original Internet e-mail protocol that lets people use the protocol to exchange different kinds of data files on the Internet: audio, video, images, application programs and other kinds, as well as the ASCII text handled in the original protocol, the Simple Mail Transport Protocol ( SMTP ).

A narrowcast is audio or video programs that targets a specific audience demographic, as opposed to a broadcast. Many podcasts may be described as narrowcasts, although as the technology continues to be adopted, "mainstream" programming for wider audiences is being podcast as well.

news feed
A news feed is a Web feed that specifically supplies new headlines or posts to an RSS aggregator. See "RSS feed." A news feed may also be called a news channel.

Outline Processor Markup Language (OPML) is an XML file format used for creating outlines. OPML has recently become popular as a format for exchanging subscription lists between RSS feed readers and RSS aggregators. A user can use OPML to track both their own RSS feeds and see who is subscribing, where they are subscribing from and what other feeds other subscribers have chosen.

Parsing is the technical process by which the RSS feed file is converted into user-friendly, readable text-form by an RSS reader.

A palmcast is podcast that is sent or read by a Palm PDA.

Ping is a basic Internet program that lets you verify that a particular IP address exists and can accept requests. The verb ping means the act of using the ping utility or command. Ping is used diagnostically to ensure that a host computer is actually operating

A podcast is an audio file published on the Internet with an RSS feed, allowing users to subscribe to automatic downloads of a series of such programs. Podcasts are a collection of files, audio MP3 files for example, that are then included in an RSS 2.0 news feed as enclosures. Instead of headlines in a news feed, each item in a podcast RSS feed represents a single MP3 file.

Podcasting is the preparation and distribution of audio (and possibly other media) files for download to digital music or multimedia players, such as the iPod . A podcast can be easily created from a digital audio file. The podcaster first saves the file as an MP3 and then uploads it to the Web site of a service provider. The MP3 file gets its own URL , which is inserted into an RSS XML document as an enclosure within an XML tag .

A podcatcher is a software application that automatically checks podcast feeds and automatically download new items.

proxy server
In an enterprise that uses the Internet, a proxy server is a server that acts as an intermediary between a workstation user and the Internet so that the enterprise can ensure security, administrative control, and caching service. A proxy server is associated with or part of a gateway server that separates the enterprise network from the outside network and a firewall server that protects the enterprise network from outside intrusion.


A punchcast is a podcast that is sent directly to a smartphone or other mobile device, without being sent to a laptop or desktop PC.

push technology
Push technology refers to a set of technologies whereby information is delivered from a central server to a client computer, often by means of an Internet-based content delivery network .

Resource Description Framework. RDF is a set of specifications that use an XML-based syntax to displaying information about online content. Content is tagged with meta data to describe its author, date, and other characteristics. RDF is a significant portion of the concept of the " Semantic Web ." RDF requires more technical knowledge than RSS to implement, which has driven the widespread adoption of the latter.


RSS (RDF Site Summary, formerly called Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication) is a method of describing news or other Web content that is available for "feeding" (distribution or syndication ) from an online publisher to Web users. RSS is an application of the Extensible Markup Language ( XML ) that adheres to the World Wide Web Consortium's Resource Description Framework ( RDF ). Originally developed by Netscape for its browser's Netcenter channels, the RSS specification is now available for anyone to use.

RSS aggregator
An RSS aggregator is a program used to collect and read RSS and Atom feeds. An RSS aggregator may also be known as a newsreader, news aggregator, or RSS aggregator. Some readers exist as stand-alone programs and others operate as extensions of Web browsers or e-mail programs; still others are available online so feeds can be read independently of the computer used to collect them.

RSS feed
An RSS feed is an XML file that provides content or summaries of content, including links to the full versions of the content and other metadata, that a user can subscribe to using an RSS aggregator. Some sites may call an RSS feed a channel.

RSS format
RSS feeds may be formatted according to several specifications. Currently (6/06) the preferred formats are RSS 1.0, 2.0 and Atom 0.3 for most readers. The original See "RSS fork."

RSS fork
Users may encounter varying specifications of RSS on the web, including RSS 0.9, 0.91, 0.92, 0.93, 1.0 and 2.0. Netscape, the principal early driver of the standard, released 0.91 in 1999. Shortly thereafter, another developer group released version 1.0, while Dave Winer of Radio Userland continued development of 0.9x, eventually arriving at version 2.0.

Scraping describes the process of someone creating an RSS feed from another Web site, as opposed to the individual's own content.

To spool is to copy an RSS link into a podcast organizer or loader application to download later.

streaming media

Streaming media is sound ( audio ) and pictures (video) that are transmitted on the Internet in a streaming or continuous fashion, using data packet s. The most effective reception of streaming media requires some form of broadband technology such as cable modem or DSL .

In general, syndication is the supply of material for reuse and integration with other material, often through a paid service subscription. The most common example of syndication is in newspapers, where such content as wire-service news, comics, columns, horoscopes and crossword puzzles are usually syndicated content. Newspapers receive the content from the content providers, reformat it as required, integrate it with other copy, print it and publish it. For many years mainly a feature of print media, today content syndication is the way a great deal of information is disseminated across the Web.

Universal Subscription Mechanism. USM allows certain podcaster to automatically add a subscription from an RSS file.

To tickerize is to add stock ticker symbol meta-information to an item in an RSS feed

 Timeshifting is the process of recording and storing data for later viewing, listening or reading. In communications, the term timeshifting refers to the transmission of messages or data to be read, heard or viewed by the recipient at a later time. E-mail, voice mail and fax are common examples. Podcasting is a perfect example of timeshifting for radio programming.

Uploading is the transmission of a file from one computer system to another, usually larger computer system. From a network user's point-of-view, to upload a file is to send it to another computer that is set up to receive it.

video podcasting
Video podcasting is similar to podcasting, except that video files are published instead of MP3s into RSS feeds. Also called "vlogging" or "vodcasting."

See video podcasting.

A vlog (or video blog) is a blog that contains video content. The small, but growing, segment of the blogosphere devoted to vlogs is sometimes referred to as the vlogosphere.

A weblog is a Web site that consists of a series of entries arranged in reverse chronological order, often updated on frequently with new information about particular topics. The information can be written by the site owner, gleaned from other Web sites or other sources or contributed by users.

Web 2.0
Web 2.0 is the popular term for advanced Internet technology and applications including blog s, wiki s, RSS and bookmark sharing. The expression was originally coined by O'Reilly Media and MediaLive International in 2004, following a conference dealing with next-generation Web concepts and issues. The two major components of Web 2.0 are the technological advances enabled by Ajax and other new applications such as RSS and Eclipse and the user empowerment that they support.

XML (Extensible Markup Language) is a flexible way to create common information formats and share both the format and the data on the World Wide Web, intranets and elsewhere.

Zencasting is podcasting by another name, referring to Zen digital media device from Creative. The term is sometimes used to describe video podcasting, though infrequently.

This was last updated in May 2007

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