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Podcasting, Chicklets, Podcasts, blogs, audio and video encodingA Podcast is rich media, such as audio or video, distributed via RSS. Feeds like this one provide updates whenever there is new content. We make it easy to receive content updates in popular podcatchers.

You may recognize the universal feed icon or these “chicklets” from your favorite Web sites, blogs and podcasts. These icons represent content in any format — text, audio or video — to which you can subscribe and read/watch/listen using a feed reader.

  • Consumer Bottom Line: Subscribing to feeds makes it possible to review a large amount of online content in a very short time.
  • Publisher Bottom Line: Feeds permit instant distribution of content and the ability to make it "subscribable."
  • Advertiser Bottom Line: Advertising in feeds overcomes many of the shortcomings that traditional marketing channels encounter including spam filters, delayed distribution, search engine rankings and general “in-box” noise.

Who publishes feeds?

Most of the biggest names on the web offer content feeds including USATODAY.com, BBC News Headlines, ABCNews, CNET, Yahoo!, Amazon.com (including a podcast!), and many more. In addition, hundreds of thousands of bloggers, podcasters and videobloggers publish feeds to keep themselves better connected to their readers/listeners/admirers/critics. Apple, through its iTunes Music Store, offers tens of thousands of audio and video podcasts for download, each of which is powered by a feed.

How do I read feeds?

If you want to browse and subscribe to feeds, you have many choices. Today, there are more than 2,000 different feed reading applications, also known as “news aggregators” (for text, mostly) or “podcatchers” (for podcasts). There are even readers that work exclusively on mobile devices.

Some require a small purchase price but are tops for ease-of-use and ship with dozens of feeds pre-loaded so you can explore the feed "universe" right away. Free readers are available as well; a search for "Feed reader" or "Feed aggregator" at popular search sites will yield many results. A handful of popular feed readers are listed in the sidebar on this page.

A typical interface for a feed reader will display your feeds and the number of new (unread) entries within each of those feeds. You can also organize your feeds into categories and even clip and save your favorite entries (with certain applications).

If you prefer, you can use an online, web-based service to track and manage feeds. Online services give you the advantage of being able to access your feed updates anywhere you can find a web browser. Also, upgrades and new features are added automatically.

How can I publish my own feeds?

If you have a Web site, blog, audio/video content or even photos, you can offer a feed of your content as an option. If you need one check out our RSS feed Syndication Services. If you are using a popular blogging platform or publishing tool like TypePad, Wordpress or Blogger, you likely publish a feed automatically. Even other, non-blogging sites like social photo-sharing service Flickr offer feeds of content you produce that others can retrieve.

The new method for easily distributing online content is often called a web feed and the technical format that makes it possible is called RSS, which stands for Really Simple Syndication, Rich Site Summary, and/or Rockdale, Sandow, and Southern (Railroad) if you trust the good folks at AcronymFinder.com. RSS is based on XML, a widely used standard for textual information exchange between applications on the Internet. RSS feeds can be viewed as plain text files, but they're really designed for computer-to-computer communication.

We should point out that RSS is just one standard for expressing feeds as XML. Another well-known choice is Atom. Both formats have their boosters, and it does not appear that consolidation toward a single standard is imminent. However, most feed subscribers simply want fresh content and don't care at all about the underlying protocol.

Try one of our Podcast feeds right now

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Last modified: Monday March 21, 2011 12:18 PM