This is a small slice of history on the development and specifications of RSS. There are many misconceptions and urban legends surrounding RSS. I am certainly no authority on the development of RSS. I am, however, more interested in using RSS as a tool and all the benefits that it can provide. What follows is really all you need to know.
"RSS was first invented by Netscape. They wanted to use an XML format to distribute news, stories and information. Netscape refined the version of rss and then dropped it. Userland Software (came) to control (use) of the specficiation (sic) and continued to develop it releasing a newer version. A non-commercial group picked up RSS at the same time and based on their interpretation of the Netscape's original concept of RSS they too released a new version. UserLand was not happy with the non-commercial version and continued development of their own version of RSS (Really Simple Syndication), eventually UserLand released RSS v2." - Source: www.rss-specifications.com
For more in-depth reading on RSS, visit "History of RSS at RSS Specifications" or "RSS at Wikipedia".
Other RSS Considerations
RSS feeds convert html code to xml and Java Script code that can be placed in websites or widgets. Some people believe that Java Script is not search engine friendly, and that may have been the case at one time. You will decide for yourself, and you can find all kinds of opinions online whether or not the search engines can read java script, and whether or not they bother. My opinion is that they can and do. RSS would not have survived until now, if it was not considered useful technology. Besides, my testing would not prove out if this were not the case.
Another notion is that free syndication services may cease to exist, and that you should protect yourself by looking for some type of paid service for support and sustainability. Personally, I don't believe that they can put the genie back in the bottle on this one either. The marketplace has come to expect this to be a free service, and I believe that is the way it will remain. This is one reason why I shy away from services like FeedBurner for now. I can see how some services could become paid a service in the future.
Free services can, and do, go by the wayside. Do some research and make an attempt to use tools and services that have some staying power. At some point it the future things could change, and it then may not be wise to use free RSS feeds and services.