#10 Make life "really simple" with RSS and an RSS reader

Have you heard of RSS? Maybe you’ve seen those little orange symbols on websites? You’ve heard co-workers and acquaintances swear by it, but still have no idea what RSS is? Well don’t worry, according to this survey 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.

As leaders in the acquisition of information, it is one Web 2.0 tool that you MUST know how to use and use regularly.

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 everyday. 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 an RSS reader (sometimes called an "aggregator"). These discovery resources and exercises focus on learning about RSS feeds and what free tools you can use to do this.

Discovery Resources:

Watch this video - RSS in Plain English

It Really Is Really Simple: RSS for Educators


CNET Video: RSS – Feel the Need for Feeds

Feed Me: A gentle introduction to Internet feeds
- a good tutorial

Using Bloglines (or how to keep up with dozens of blogs every day)

Getting Started Using Google Reader

Discovery Exercise:

1. Watch the tutorials above to learn about the difference between RSS feed readers, Bloglines and Google Reader.

2. Choose the service you like best, and create a free account.

3. When your account is set up, subscribe to at least 5 different feeds that you will WANT to check every day or so.

TIP: Do not select any predefined information channels during the set up process. If you do, your reader will be prepopulated with a lot of feeds that you may not be interested in.

Some feeds to consider when subscribing:

Dallas Morning News

The Top Shelf

One of the School Library Journal blogs

Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk Blog

Not So Distant Future

4. Create a post in your blog about this exercise that answers these questions:
  • What do you like about RSS and newsreaders?
  • How do you think you might be able to use this technology in your school or personal life?
  • How can libraries use RSS or take advantage of this new technology?
  • Optional: If you're up to the challenge, provide a link to your public Bloglines account or create a public page with Google Reader.
How to find your public Bloglines URL:

1. Click on the Share tab within your Bloglines account.
2. Scroll down the right screen pane and locate the public URL.

Why have a public page? To share your blogs with others!

Getting your news, personal and professional information via RSS is the wave of the future. Ride the wave!

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