RSS and Newsreaders
Last week you started your own blog. This week you’ll learn about the RSS feeds that are automagically created by your blog & other blogs, as well as by other types of content.
- What RSS is and why you might want to use it
- How to use a newsreader to subscribe to RSS feeds
- How to know when an RSS feed is available
Listen to our third podcast and read the content below. If you have questions about anything along the way, be sure to contact us. We’re happy to help! Listen to the podcast by clicking on the play button below or read the Project Play Week 3 Podcast Transcript (pdf).
What is RSS?
The initials RSS stand for “Really Simple Syndication”. RSS is a format for syndicating & publishing content online through newsfeeds. An RSS feed is updated as soon as the original content is updated.
RSS is revolutionizing the way content creators share information, and changing the way people consume information. It’s an efficient (and free) way to stay informed on topics that interest you.
Enjoy this video which explains RSS in Plain English (note: Google Reader is shown instead of Bloglines, but you’ll get the gist):
What’s a newsreader, and why do I want one?
A newsreader is software that lets you subscribe to and read RSS feeds. With RSS feeds & a newsreader:
- Updates come to you, instead of you seeking them
- You tailor the news to fit your needs
- News is gathered in one place
- You can review lots of content in a short time
- It’s easy to scan headlines & read posts
How do I find library newsfeeds to which I can subscribe?
We’ve set up for you a core collection of library feeds at http://www.bloglines.com/public/ProjectPlay. You can preview them & choose the ones to which you’d like to subscribe.
But wait – there’s more! You can find RSS feeds at lots of web content besides blogs:
- EBSCOhost alerts. Log in to your account to “create topic search alerts & journal alerts”: http://support.epnet.com/support_news/detail.php?id=334&t=r&page=&private=true (Note: EBSCOhost is available to Wisconsin libraries through Badgerlink)
- Tags used on the del.icio.us social bookmarking service and Flickr
- Podcasts like Uncontrolled Vocabulary
- Newspapers like the New York Times
A good way to tell if web content has an RSS feed is when you see a small (often orange) RSS icon on a page or in your web browser’s address bar (see some examples). Some web pages even have a “subscribe with Bloglines” button!
What other ways can I use RSS feeds?
You can display RSS feeds on your blog or web page to provide content that’s automatically & frequently updated. These feeds can be from one of your library’s blogs, or from an outside source like newspaper headlines. Or they could be del.icio.us tags used to collect & update content on a subject guide web page.
Here are examples of some of the ways libraries are re-purposing RSS feeds on their web sites:
- Denver Public Library There’s a live news feed on the right-hand side of the page; feeds are from Reuters, NY Times and other news sources
- MIT Libraries This page uses the RSS feed generated by the library’s del.icio.us list to populate their Virtual Reference Collection
Find more ideas for using newsfeeds at the RSS4Lib blog.
You’re going to set up a free Bloglines account and subscribe to at least 10 newsfeeds.
1. Register for a free account at Bloglines.
—This Bloglines Tutorial walks you through how to set up a Bloglines account & subscribe to newsfeeds. Follow Steps 1 to 3 to set up your Bloglines account (steps 4 through 9 are optional because they cover how to subscribe to different types of feeds).
—If you prefer, watch this video that demonstrates the steps.
2. Subscribe to at least 10 newsfeeds. Here are some for starters:
—Project Play participant blogs
—Preview & choose from a core collection of library-related blogs we’ve put together for you at the ProjectPlay blogroll
—Pick from a collection of library blogs at the Blogging Libraries Wiki
—Find more than just library blogs: http://www.bloglines.com/subbundles
3. Create a post on your blog about this assignment. Ideas for what you can write about: What do you like or about RSS feeds and aggregators? How do you think you might be able to use this in your work or personal life?
Optional: If you’re up for it, in your blog posting provide a link to the address of your public Bloglines account; details are at http://www.bloglines.com/help/share
Optional task for those who already use Bloglines:
Extra: Cute Overload
Every week on PP2.0 we give you a little extra something fun; this week it’s Cute Overload!
Winner of the Webby’s 2007 People’s Voice Award and the 2007 Bloggies award for Best American Weblog, Cute Overload is guaranteed to give you a daily dose (or overdose) of “prosh” critters, from aardvarks to zebra finches. News flash: Cute Overload now proven beneficial to your health!
“A thing, accompanied by a smaller version of that thing, is always cute” and “You’re cute if your furniture doubles as a meal’ are just two of Cute Overload “35 Rules of Cuteness”.
Subscribe to the Cute Overload RSS newsfeed using this URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/typepad/CuteOverloadTags: Bloglines, Cute Overload, feeds, Google Reader, newsreaders, RSS