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Yahoo Takes RSS Mainstream

Yahoo's public embrace of the RSS content syndication format took a major leap forward with the release of a revamped My Yahoo portal seeking to introduce the technology to mainstream consumers.

The mega portal on Monday released a sneak peek into a site overhaul that promises to take RSS to the masses by simplifying the use of the technology on the personalized service and allowing the creation of RSS feeds from search queries.

"This not only makes My Yahoo relevant in the modern wave of syndication, it does something else -- something that Yahoo is in a unique position to do: bring RSS to the masses," said Jeremy Zawodny, a developer in Yahoo's platform engineering (infrastructure) group.

Zawodny, an avowed RSS enthusiast, wrote on his weblog that the increased visibility of RSS on the My Yahoo service will push the technology to millions of new mom-and-pop users.

"There are a lot of My Yahoo users out there," he wrote on his blog. "Most of those folks have no idea what RSS and Atom are. They really shouldn't need to. Many of them want their favorite content all in one place, which is why they starting using My Yahoo in the first place, and they happen to want it on the web."

RSS, the "push/pull" technology first developed by Netscape in the 1990s and popularized by blogs, has been embraced by tech-savvy users. But widespread consumer adoption remains elusive. With Yahoo's evangelization, Zawodny believes the average user would understand and embrace the technology.

"Some folks might argue that the world just needs to learn about RSS, download and use a desktop aggregator, and so on," Zawodny continued on his blog. "That's true for some people, but probably not the majority. My parents, for example, don't care about the various technologies that make their e-mail work. They just want e-mail. They don't know about HTML either. They just want to use the Web.

"This new version of My Yahoo tries to get us closer to the point that it just works," Zawodny wrote, highlighting the simplification of content discovery where RSS feeds can be found from multiple sources, including search queries.

Yahoo is not the first big-name Internet company to support RSS. E-commerce giants Amazon.com and eBay have hopped on the RSS bandwagon in recent months, rolling out feeds for online shoppers.

Microsoft has also added RSS support throughout its Web properties to push content to consumers and professional developers.