RSS feeds and tags are the key components of the Read-Write Web, including podcasts, that allow content to be easily categorized by everyone, then searched and accessed in new and profoundly different ways.

RSS Feeds - What pulls content to our learning space

RSS, which stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary, is one of the driving forces that is shaping the new Read/Write Web. RSS allows users to subscribe to information. No longer does a person need to go find information, and continually revisit certain sites to find updated information. Through a tool called an aggregator, one can subscribe to the content being published. Then, when new information is posted,external image 263038507_c07101ae40_m.jpg that information is instantly accessible to the user, using the aggregator. A good way to think of this of how one gets his/her newspaper. A person can read new editions every morning either by just having them delivered at home through a subscription (RSS), or can physically travel to a newstand to purchase new editions (going to static web pages). In the same way, podcast aggregators pull new audio/video episodes to the podcast aggregator so that it is easily accessible any place, any time. You no longer have to constantly visit a website to find out if there is new content.
Photo Credit - NYTimes by 46137 on Flickr

Two great multimedia introductions to RSS, published for the K-12 Online Conference., include What is RSS and How Do I Use It? by Jeff Utecht, and a 4 part series webcast by James Gates and Kurt Paccio, These presentations clarify the use of Bloglines (an online aggregator), Netvibes and Pageflakes (online start pages that use RSS), Social Bookmarking and Tagging, and a summary of RSS and Tagging. These are excellent resources to learn more about how these technologies work.

Podcast Aggregators

Podcasts are audio recordings that use RSS to syndicate the recordings into a feed that one can subscribe to. A good combo podcast aggregator and player is Apple's iTunes. With this tool, one can search and subscribe to many different podcasts on both the Macintosh and the Windows platform. The quantity and diversity of podcasts available from the iTunes Music Store and other podcast directores is growing exponentially each day.
Other podcast aggregators are listed at Podcasting News.