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State Records Available Newsfeeds

This News Feed has been destroyed. Contact State Records of South Australia.

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What are Newsfeeds?

In the past, to view what new information had been published on a website, one had to periodically revisit the website to see what information had changes on the website since your last visit. As people sought information from more and more websites, this became increasingly impractical and inefficient.

At a later stage, some websites offered the ability to subscribe to individual web pages by registering. Then you would be notified by email either with a prompt plus a link to the content or with the whole content. This was an improvement but had several objections to its use. Firstly one had to register for each individual item of interest and secondly one had to register contact information with the website publisher.

The current approach to notifying customers of new or updated information of interest on the publisher's website is via Newsfeeds.

A publishing website can now define topics of information spanning a number of areas of its website and make these into a single newsfeed that automatically updates when changes occur to any of the areas of their website defined for this Newsfeed. The publishing website then advertises these Newsfeeds with their topic of information on the website. A customer then browsing this website is made aware of the Newsfeeds that are available. The customer, using appropriate software described below, may choose to anonymously select one of the advertised Newsfeeds and from then on be automatically fed information about changes that may have occurred across this topic of information.

This approach has been further extended by other websites gathering Newsfeeds on a topic from many publishers and aggregating these into a single Newsfeed. These are then advertised to a wide audience allowing a customer to such a website to subscribe to a Newsfeed that is gathering information on a topic from a wide variety of sources.

To simplify the use of Newsfeeds, a number of de-facto and international standards have evolved that define the format of the information distributed via a Newsfeed. These standard Newsfeeds are loosely referred to as RSS feeds.

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What is RSS?

The meaning of the abbreviation RSS has evolved as the various standards have evolved. The common meanings to RSS are:

  • Rich Site Summary which is often used for Newsfeeds that adhere to the defacto standard RSS 0.91
  • RDF Site Summary which is often used for Newsfeeds that adhere to the defacto standards RSS 0.9, RSS 1.0 and RSS 1.1
  • Really Simple Syndication for Newsfeeds that adhere to the defacto standard RSS 2.0

However, the current international standard for Newsfeeds is ATOM 1.0, which is in many ways akin to the RSS 2.0 defacto standard.

All the standards address the distribution of content in an XML-based format. Most current RSS feed readers (see below) will successfully manipulate any RSS format Newsfeed. However, because of the powerful new features available in the latest standards, most publishers are slowly migrating their Newsfeeds to the latest standards. ATOM 1.0 particularly has features that allow the distribution of content in a wide variety of multimedia formats and languages. State Records has chosen to format its Newsfeeds in ATOM 1.0 format.

A fuller history of RSS and Newsfeeds may be found at Wikipedia.

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How do I recognise that an RSS Newsfeed exists?

It is common practice for a publishing website to place an icon at appropriate places on its website where it wishes to advertise the existence of a specific Newsfeed. Additionally, an icon is often placed on the Home Page of a website to flag the existence of Newfeeds.

The two most common icons used to indicate Newsfeeds:

  • RSS News Feeds is the most commonly used to indicate a Newsfeed in any format.
  • RSS News Feeds is used for Newsfeeds that adhere to the ATOM 1.0 standard.

However, the RSS icon has become the defacto standard icon for denoting Newsfeeds.

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What is an RSS feed reader?

To read RSS feeds, you need a software program called a feed reader, also known as a newsreader or an aggregator. This reader regularly collects content from various websites and provides it to you in a simple form, similar to your email inbox and in some cases distributed to your actual email inbox. There are many newsreaders available in a variety of formats. Some can be accessed using a web browser, others are downloadable applications.

As RSS feeds are optional and subscription based, all feed readers allow you to select to which RSS feed you wish to subscribe and which RSS feeds you wish to cancel.

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How do I start receiving RSS feeds?

You need to either install a feed reader on your computer or choose to use one of the web-based feed readers facilities. Full instructions on how to set up any kind of feed reader can be found on individual feed reader websites or within the HELP facility of your existing software.

However, in general to subscribe to an RSS feed:

  1. Click on the RSS button next to the feed you want (or control, click for Mac users)
  2. Either, copy the URL of the page that is displayed and paste the address in the appropriate place in your feed reader.
  3. Or, in the case of many of the current Internet browsers, the browser will immediately display an input screen where you may set various parameters and decide whether or not to subscribe to this Newsfeed.

Whichever type of feed reader is used, no personal information is sent to the publishing website when you subscribe to or cancel access to a Newsfeed.

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Commonly Used Feed Readers

State Records of South Australia does not recommend or endorse and specific Feed Reader, but for convenience has listed some of the more well known ones.

Various email software:

  • Outlook 2007

Web Browsers such as:

  • Internet Explorer 7+
  • Mozilla Firefox 1.5+
  • Safari xx+

Feed Reader Software such as:

  • FeedReader
  • FeedDemon
  • NewzCrawler MAC
  • NewsFire
  • NetNewsWire
  • NewsGator Online

Specialist Services:

  • My Yahoo!
  • Google Reader

Vision impaired customers:

  • @podder


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