Transforming news as we know it

RSS (Really simple syndication) is not entirely new. For years now, techno-mavericks have been extolling the wonders of XML. XML was to be the wonder format for sending and exchanging information. Of course this caught the attention of the news media, as they desire their own articles to be read the world over. RSS was Netscape's solution, an XML based description of the news.

As more and more news organizations started creating RSS feeds, the monstrosity of the Internet reared its ugly head and overloaded any one person's ability to read all the news available. Hence the need for RSSreaders. These readers organize and allow searching on the volumes of RSS feeds. Now users of these readers can search on new news items that are of interest to just themselves, much like how search engines allow users to search websites for information relevant to just them.

So what have I to add to all of articles and comments on RSS?

Just this...RSS is transforming how our society views news. Now we can easily find news items about any subject, from any location, and at any time. No longer are we dependent on newspapers and the 6 o-clock news to push their version of what's important down our throats. Now, more than ever, we can seek the news we want.

Web sites specializing in particular topics was the first step down this path. Now, with RSS, we can compartmentalize even further and search for only new news items about much more specific topics. Forget having to wait. Forget have to pour through hundreds of websites. Now we are immediately notified of anything of interest. It's not quite a push technology and not quite a website search engine, but rather a combination of those concepts.

All in all, news organizations will have to learn to adapt or they'll go out of business. As web users learn of the power of RSS and web developers learn how to better optimize news dissemination and aggregation, news stories will become more specialized and written by fewer journalists and more first hand eye-witnesses. The popularity of blogs is just one manifestation of this change, as many already employee RSS feeds.

This change will force many people to dig deeper into any statement they hear to verify its truth or falsehood. No longer will news be taken at face value, especially if contradictory evidence is readily available. Individuals will either learn to question news in general and think rationally about stories told, or they'll force themselves into a world of contradiction and depression. All the more reason why critical thinking skills and the development of a strong self-esteem are essential for our children.

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