Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

What Can You Do With RSS?

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While the popularized geek use for RSS is generally considered to be exclusively limited to the realm of publishing and subscribing to news headlines and blog feeds, many other innovative and useful applications of RSS have been sprouting here and there.

Photo credit: Jenny Erickson

Whether it is for business, marketing, PR, competitive intelligence or for security protection, video entertainment or tracking downloads for your newest product, RSS is a breakthrough technology which can truly be applied to thousands of possible applications.

Photo credit: Ronen

Monitoring Newsgroups/Usenet

Photo credit: Jake Levin

Google Groups is a free online community and discussion group service that offers the Web's most comprehensive archive of Usenet postings. Google Groups can be monitored using RSS feeds. In order to monitor a specific newsgroup simply add "/feed/msgs.xml" to the end of the Google Group URL. Add the new URL to a newsgroup reader and receive updates each time a new post is added to the newsgroup.

Example Feed from Google Groups.

Other online community-oriented and online group-collaboration services that fully support RSS include:




Shared Calendars

Photo credit: Marja Flick-Buijs

Build a calendar for public or private use and receive calendar updates via an RSS feed. Shared calendars can be created for personal reminders to pay bills or attend social functions. Calendars can also be used for specific groups like schools, sporting events, or industry events. A shared calendar can be fully syndicated and shared using RSS feeds.

Example Feed -

RSS Calendar



Photo credit: Michael Shake

Enter a zip code and obtain the weather information for a specific region. Click the orange RSS icon and add the feed to your RSS reader. Each day, at your specified time, you will receive local and regional weather reports as they are made available. RSS feeds can be customized to include current local conditions, local Doppler radar, pollen trends, regional video forecasts with expert commentary, and extended forecast details.

Yahoo Weather

RSS Weather

Classifieds (Homes/Jobs)

Photo credit: Tan Kian Khoon

Curious about the availability of specific employment opportunities in a specific industry? Receive notification when positions are made available. RSS feeds can be created for regions, salary ranges, or positions.

Craigslist Example Feed



Ego Searches
Photo credit: Gina Smith

An egosurfer is one who surfs the Internet for his own name, to see what, if any, articles appear about himself. Ego searches are free and simple searches designed to monitor blogs and news portals for mentions of your company, product, competitors, or other specific keywords. Conducting ego searches, not only allows you to stay informed, but also allows you to maintain a strategic advantage over competing companies. A number of new Internet services are freely available that make these 'ego searches' painless and easy.

Many of the services allow you to create a keyword based feed. Each time new information containing the keyword appears in the searched resources, the RSS feed updates.


Monitor This

Technorati Watchlist

More ego-searching tools.

Shipments Tracking


Receive notification via RSS feeds when packages are delivered. Custom RSS feeds can be created to monitor delivery progress. Track the status of packages shipped via US Postal Service, UPS, DHL or Federal Express.

Simple Tracking

Track2RSS Project


Hot Deals, Coupons and Specials

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Everyone loves a bargain, RSS feeds that promote time sensitive discounts or offers are becoming increasingly popular. Restaurants convey lunch specials while travel companies convey last minute deals to prospective travelers using RSS Feeds.



Sample Restaurants Feed
Sample Travel Feed

Auction Monitoring

Photo credit: Levi Szekeres

Items on eBay or on other major online auction houses are time sensitive and few individuals have enough time to make daily auction checks of new auctions for specific products. Create an RSS feed using keywords to monitor products as they become available for auction.

Bidding Tools
Example Feeds



Price Watching

Photo credit: Kirsty Pargeter

Price watching enables you to track and monitor price changes on specific products and markets. Still in its infancy this market niche is certain to become in great demand soon.



Podcasting and Podcatching


I wasn't going to even list this one, as it has caught on so rapidly that nobody wants to hear anymore what podcasting is, but then I gave in to list here after many not-too-obvious applications, as a reference for those who have not yet been exposed to this wildly popular and effective use of RSS. "Podcasting is the distribution of audio or video files, such as radio programs or music videos, over the Internet using either RSS or Atom syndication for listening on mobile devices and personal computers. The term podcast, like "radio", can mean both the content and the method of delivery. Podcasters' websites also may offer direct download of their files, but the subscription feed of automatically delivered new content is what distinguishes a podcast from a simple download or real-time streaming. Usually, the podcast features one type of "show" with new episodes either sporadically or at planned intervals such as daily, weekly, etc. In addition to this, there are podcast networks that feature multiple shows on the same feed."
(Source: Wikipedia)

Podcasting is all about allowing you and me to listen to our favourite audio and video programs wherever, whenever and on whichever device we want.





Video editing


Thanks to RSS grassroots collaborative video editing may soon become a reality for many. Kent Bye has been working at such an idea as well as the guys behind some of the hottest new online video editing sites that have recently launched. RSS is a key component in all these tools as it helps those working around a theme or a specific project to maintain themselves updated with new clips posted and available for them to work on.



Discover Your Friends Discoveries

Photo credit: Alex Bramwell





Photo credit: Jenny W.

Newsmastering is an emerging new application in which great numbers of RSS feeds, augmented by specific filters are mixed to create highly valuable thematic information feeds. These can be called radars or when covering news content newsradars.



Coming next:

Track conversations


Social networking for music lovers
Find out via RSS what your friends are listening to, track new albums, songs and artists.

Mercora Radio 2.0

The term swarm (schooling or swarming) is applied to fish, birds and insects and describes a behavior of an aggregation () of animals of similar size and body orientation, generally cruising in the same direction (source: Wikipedia).
New online services are emerging that will allow small and large groups of people to remain in synch with each other even when not in close physical contact. These services will invariably employ SMS text messaging, email and RSS as their key channels of spreading communications in the fastest and most effective way to their interconnected groups.

Stay tuned.

X-events are a new and more effective way to run live events that will extend the event interaction to much before and after the actual event. Via the use of new media technologies including RSS, blogs, P2P, personal media aggregators, forums, wikis and other tools, the event organizers of the near future are in for banking lots of money if they understand that the name of the game is in the extended, interactive event in which the live event (online or not) is only but one of the many components and services offered.


Video Search


Bug reporting

Version Tracker

Crime Monitoring

Chicago Crime

RSS Mashups

Instant Messaging with RSS
What Happens When You Mashup RSS, IM, and Publishing Services?

(RSS + P2P for automatically downloaded personalized TV watching)
How-To: BroadCatching using RSS + BitTorrent to automatically download TV shows

RSS is still very young.

Both publishers and consumers are actively seeking ways to take good advantage of this uniquely powerful content delivery technology and additional uses of RSS feeds are popping up daily.

RSS may soon become an invisible technology powering hundreds if not thousands of diverse applications and uses.

Where else do you think RSS is headed next?

Do you know of other RSS uses and applications that you would like others to know about?

Use the post a comment link at the end of this article to add your own.

More info:
Usage Study, RSS--Crossing into the Mainstream (Ipsos Insight/Yahoo!) PDF

About the Authors:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for NotePage a wireless text messaging software company.

Robin Good is the executive editor of MasterNewMedia, MasterViews and Kolabora. His expertise and interests span from information and interface design to online collaboration technologies, new uses and applications of new media and a vision for empowering the individual to use communication to change.

Readers' Comments    
2007-09-26 14:03:21



i am loving the whole RSS feeds technology, i am a 3rd year student in college and have to develop a project over the next 6 months, most are picking simple projects but i would like to learn about rss feeds using semantic web while i do this...basically id like to set up a site....using xml,rdf and receive rss feeds about books prices and allow users to query add im new to all this and have to learn myself from scratch, iv no clue as yet about semantic web and im researcing now....if anyone with knowledge in this area has any ideas on how to go about this it would be brilliant..and mail me.
Cheers Ian

posted by Robin Good on Tuesday, April 11 2006, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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