The United Church is the largest Protestant denomination in Canada offering not only a rich history, but one of the easiest to understand answers to the question: “What is RSS?”
I gotta tell ya folks, there are nominal denominational websites and then there are definitive denominational websites. United-Church.ca falls into the latter category. Accessible, informative, internationalized, usable, easy-to-navigate. Good stuff, and worth exploring in greater details (hint, hint).
But for today, let’s just look at their not-so-geek description of RSS … and how they are consumed:
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a format for delivering summaries of frequently updated website material such as news releases and other announcements, forthcoming events and programs, etc.
Many news and advocacy sites syndicate their content as RSS feeds in a data format known as XML that a RSS reader (also known as “news aggregator”) interprets and displays.
An aggregator is a software program similar to a web browser that lets you read the headlines from many sites at one time. You simply plug in the web address (URL) of the RSS file you want, such as one of the United Church of Canada feeds …
For many of you into blogging the above definition is nothing new, but for those of you whose church website development comes along more traditional lines, what this all means more and more individuals are not visiting your website to see what is new, but are instead using aggregators to inform them when a site is updated and with what. If it helps, you can think of RSS aggregators in the same way described by Jonathan Dube of Poynter Online: “Your own personal Web butler.”
If you’re still not convinced that your church website needs to syndicate then my suggestion is that you take advantage of any one of a number of client-based aggregators such as FeedDeamon and NewsGator, or equally useful web-based aggregators such as BlogLines.
What you’ll see is that without actually visiting the site, you can keep track of literally hundreds of sites simultaneously. Hopefully once you see how this can and is changing the face of how we track online information, want to do is figure out how to syndicate your pastor’s sermons, the weekly newsletter and/or your events calendar.
When that happens, hopefully by then I’ll have an article on how to do this. In the meantime, if you’ve got some ideas or questions along these lines, leave a not in love. And please, no wise-cracks about me acknowledging the fact that there are Canadian Christians – with good websites even!