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News feeds are short, Web-based descriptions of published information that include hyperlinks to original source documents. News feeds disseminate lists, as they are updated, of publications that are encoded as Really Simple Syndication (RSS) files. The lists are displayed in a newsreader application. News feeds available on the World Wide Web are extensive and range from topics about the arts, business, or science, to news sources like the BBC or New York Times, to Weblogs. For example, the Wisconsin Legislative Documents site publishes several RSS feeds. See the site’s RSS Feeds page.
RSS is an XML-based technology designed to summarize and index publications posted on the Web into a customized format that includes a title, a concise description of an article, and a URL link. With RSS, users can subscribe to specific news feeds to monitor lists of publications as they are updated. Users may then skim titles and descriptions of articles and then choose to ignore the information, read a summary, or view the original source document via the URL link.
To read RSS files and subscribe to news feeds, a user must install newsreader software—also known as a news aggregator—which is an application that monitors Web sites that contain RSS files. A newsreader alerts users when new content is detected, and it tracks read and unread content. Once a user adds an RSS site to his or her list of news feeds, the information appears at specified times (e.g., hourly, daily, weekly) within the window of the newsreader. To subscribe to content from a particular site, usually a user can simply drag the XML icon from the site into the newsreader. Newsreaders and RSS-equipped sites do not require subscribers to join a list, create and remember a password, visit other Web sites, or handle E-mail messages.
The LRB incorporates syndicated news feeds into its Web site to provide access to LRB publications that are encoded as RSS files. With LRB’s syndicated news feeds, a legislator or member of the public can get current legislative information organized by category (e.g., taxation or criminal justice) or by publication title (e.g., Tap the Power or Constitutional Highlights).
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