Friday, September 19, 2008

Week 4, Thing 8

#8 Make life "really simple" with RSS & a newsreader

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? That’s okay. According to a 2006 survey you’re still in the majority. Now if you Google RSS Feeds you will get over 756,000,000 hits. In the information world, RSS has not only revolutionized the way news, media and content creators share information, but it has also changed the way everyday users are consuming information.

RSS, according to one definition, stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and is a file format for delivering regularly updated information over the web. You can check out a Wikipedia article or there is website Some of you may also have taken Michael Sauers’s (from the Nebraska Library Commission) workshops on RSS feeds. The NLC has some additional information on RSS with links to more pages explaining this tool.

Have you ever wondered how would you keep up with a blog? Let’s skip the question of why you would – but if you were interested in a blog or a website that was updated at various intervals, you would have to visit every day or every few days, just to keep up! 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 advertisingwithout having to search for new information on the page you’d already seen or read beforeand 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. If you prefer you can set up an account with Google Reader or Newsgator but the information provided here is for setting up a Bloglines account. You can always follow directions on the other sites if you prefer. If you want one less username/password combo to remember Google Reader as you can use the same combo that you used to set up your blog.

Discovery Resources:
  • Feed Me: A gentle introduction to Internet feeds - a tutorial from Palinet, a library cooperative. Some information may have changed since this tutorial was created.
  • Using Bloglines Tutorial (how to keep up with dozens of blogs everyday) – 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. (Steps 4 – 9 are optional and cover how to subscribe to different types of feeds (podcasts, Flickr albums, etc.)). Again, some information may have changed since this blog post/tutorial was created.
  • RSS in Plain English: A simple and user friendly overview of RSS created by Commoncraft Video on Youtube.
  • Adding RSS Feeds to Bloglines - A short YouTube video created by Helene Blowers showing how to add feeds in Bloglines.
  • Additional Bloglines news feed subscription information (screenshot image)
  • Your co-workers - tap into their knowledge or work through your discovery process together. Several OPL staff have already attended Michael Sauer’s workshops on RSS as noted earlier - seek them out and ask them to show what they know.

    Discovery Exercise:

1. Follow the discovery resources above to learn more about RSS and newsreaders.

2. Create a free online Bloglines account for yourself and subscribe to at least 10 feeds to your reader. See Using Bloglines Tutorial steps 1-3 for instructions.

Try adding a few other types of feeds from various library related or other sources (you may like to select a couple from the list below)


  • Subscribe to several of your co-workers' feeds. This is as easy as typing the blog URL into the subscribe field in Bloglines. Or go to your friends' blogs, click on the 'subscribe' or 'atom' button at the bottom of the page. Try it, it's easy!
  • You can subscribe to blogs in Blogger. Sign in to your Blogger account – this will take you to your dashboard or click on your profile on your blog – scroll down and see the reading list? Here you can add the blogs of your co-workers. Open up O! What a Geek in a separate screen and choose which blogs you want to follow (you can also hide your reading list from others if you wish).

3. Create a post in your blog about this exercise.

Don’t know what to blog about? Think 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?

PS: Once you tackle this discovery exercise, you've tackled the most difficult one of the whole 23. :)

Continue on to week 4, thing 9

1 comment:

Phoenix said...

Yes, tackling RSS feeds is a task.