Sunday, March 29, 2009

Fourth Course: Make life really simple with RSS

You've heard of RSS? You've seen those small funny tags on websites? You've heard co-workers and acquaintances swear by it, but still have no idea what RSS is? Well, you're about to find out! In the information world, RSS is not only revolutionizing the way news, media and content creators share information, but it is also swiftly changing the way everyday users are consuming information.

RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication" and is a file format for delivering regularly updated information over the web.

Just think about the websites and news information sources you visit every day. It takes time to visit those sites and scour the ad-filled and image-heavy pages for just the text you want to read, doesn't it? Now imagine if you could visit all those information sources and web pages in just one place and all at the same time...without being bombarded with advertising...without having to search for new information on the page you'd already seen or read before...and without having to consume a lot of time visiting each site individually. Would that be valuable to you? Well, it's available now through a newsreader and RSS.

This week's discovery exercises focus on learning about RSS news feeds and setting up a Bloglines account (a free online newsreader) for yourself to bring your feeds together.

Discovery Resources:
  • Feed Me: A gental introduction to Internet feeds - a good tutorial from Palinet, a library cooperative; it's from 2005, so some of the feed readers look a little different now
  • Using Bloglines Tutorial (how to keep up with dozens of blogs every day) - This online tutorial walks you through how to setup a Bloglines account and add newsfeeds. Follow steps 1 to 3 to set up your Bloglines account. Step 4-9 are optional and cover how to subscribe to different types of feeds (podcasts, Flickr albums, etc)
  • RSS Reader How To - This video tutorial provides information on creating a bloglines account, adding feeds, and making folders.

Discovery Exercises:

  1. Follow the discovery resources above to learn more about RSS and newsreaders.
  2. Create a free online Bloglines accout for yourself and subscribe to at least 10 newsfeeds to your reader. See Using Bloglines Tutorial steps 1-3 for instructions.
    News feeds:
    Participant blog feeds- Subscribe to several of your co-workers' feeds. This is as easy as typing the blog URL into the subscribe field in Bloglines. Try it; it's easy!
    Select some of these interesting blogs-
    The Technology Tapas feed
    The "M" Word--Marketing Libraries
    Simply Amazing--Peggy Cadigan's Blog
    Unshelved--Library Cartoon Feed
    Library Stuff--Library news and updates
    Lolcats--Funny captions for cat pictures (One of Andrea's favorite non-work websites!)
  3. Create a post in your blog about this exercise. Optional: if you're up to the challenge, you can provide the URL address to your public Bloglines account (find out where to locate this below).

Don't know what to blog about? Thing about these questions:

  • What do you like about RSS and newsreaders?
  • How do you think you might be able to use this technology in your work or personal life?
  • How can libraries use RSS or take advantage of this new technology?

How to find your public Bloglines URL (or watch this tutorial!):

  1. Go into your account settings
  2. Click on the tab for Blog Settings
  3. Create a user name
  4. Check the button for "Yes, publish my blog roll" in the section "Show My Blogroll"
  5. Save changes
  6. In the left-hand pane, click on "Share" under "Additional Options"
  7. Your URL will appear under the section "/public" Note: it will follow the pattern:

In conclusion, here is the link to my public Bloglines account:

Why have a public account? To share blog rolls with others, of course!

P.S. Once you tackle this discovery exercise, you've tackled the most difficult one of the whole 13. :)

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