Why are blogs different than regular websites?

(or A Brief Introduction to Accessing Blogs through RSS)

 Well, in some ways they aren't. You can view them with a web browser, and apart from their chronological ordering and generally personal tone they look a lot like regular websites. 

But if you poke around blog sites long enough, you'll start to see words like "Syndicate this Site (XML)" or "RSS 1.0" or little orange graphics like . (Take a look at the front page of this site, at the bottom of the right-hand column, for an example). Try clicking on one of these types of links.  

Yikes! What the heck was that? Well that was XML (eXtensible Markup Language) and more specifically something called RSS or a 'feed' (which, depending on who you believe, stands for "Rich Site Summary" or "Really Simple Syndication" or possibly for nothing at all!) In essence RSS is a way to serve up the content from your blog site as structured data without any of the surrounding HTML formatting. So the title of your postings are clearly defined as the titles, the main bodies of the posts defined as the 'descriptions' and the links that you point to as the 'links', but with no instructions to your web browser as to how to display them, which is what HTML typically handles. 

But why in heavens name would I want to do that? I just spent the last 6 weeks tweaking the design of my site to work in every web browser known to mankind, and now I'm supposed to server up a version with no formatting at all?!? 

RSS makes no sense until you see the other side of the equation, the application you use to read it, called variously an 'RSS Aggregator,' 'News Aggregator' or 'RSS Reader.' RSS Aggregators are perhaps best seen to be understood, so talk a look at all of the facilitators blogs in a web-based aggregator called Bloglines.

 Onto Part II >>