Friday, July 20, 2007

# 8 Make Life "Really Simple" with RSS & a Newsreader

Listen to this podcast:

If you are hearing-impaired or do not have access to audio on your computer, a transcript of this podcast is available.

You’ve heard of RSS?

You’ve seen those small funny tags on websites like the one to the right of this text?

You’ve heard co-workers and acquaintances swear by it, but still have no idea what RSS is?

Well don’t worry,
you’re still in the majority, but this is changing rapidly. In the information world, RSS is not only revolutionizing the way news, media and content creators share information, but it also is 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. This may include news sites, blogs, Flickr pages, and many others. 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? Or, how about all the time you waste checking your favorite blogs only to find there's nothing new since the last time you checked the site.

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 or Google Reader account (free online newsreaders) for yourself to bring your feeds together.

Discovery Exercise # 1:

  1. Follow the discovery resources below to learn more about RSS and newsreaders.
Watch the following YouTube video to learn about RSS feeds and newsreaders:

Need more then just that video? Still a bit overwhelmed?

RSS can definitely be a little bit overwhelming at first. Just remember, the whole point of RSS is to bring new stuff to you to SAVE YOU TIME!

IF you feel like you need more to learn about RSS and newsreaders, try looking at one or more of the sites below.

Feel like you've got it? Or are you already an RSS pro? Then skip the below links and move directly to the second discovery exercise.

  • What is RSS? Not really liking all the video and tutorial explanations of RSS above? Try this text explanation of RSS and feed readers.

Discovery Exercise # 2:

Create a free online Bloglines OR Google Reader account for yourself. See the Bloglines or Google Reader Tutorials below for instructions.

If you need help this week -----

Please contact me (Nicole Montgomery) directly or please feel free to post comments to the EKU Learning Blog. Please also tap into the knowledge of our other coworkers who already have Bloglines or Google Reader accounts. I am sure they would be happy to share their experiences with you! Please ask Melissa Schutt, Cindy Judd, Julie George, Nicole Montgomery, Betina Gardner, Brad Marcum, or Cindi Trainor if you need help setting up your feed reader account.

Discovery Exercise # 3:

Now that you have a feedreader account, subscribe to at least five feeds and add a posting on your blog about your experience. Below are some feeds you may want to subscribe to.

  • EKU Learning blog - Subscribe to this feed so that you will know when a new lesson has been added! Brillant, huh?

In the next lesson, we'll take a look at how to find more feeds. But, for now, this is a great start!

Create a post in your blog about this exercise. In order to get credit, don't forget to send an e-mail to with a link to your blog posting for this lesson.

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?

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