06 & 07 – Feed Your Reading Habit

Things 6 & 7, week 3

Subscribe to News Feeds

Skip straight to the task…

What is RSS?

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and is a file format for delivering content on the web. You will also find RSS referred to as ‘web feeds’ or just ‘feeds’. A good way to understand RSS feeds is to think about them as magazine subscriptions: rather than having to frequently visit the newsstand to check for a new issue of your favourite magazine, you can just subscribe to it and sit back & wait for the new issues to come to you.

A feed reader is an aggregator – that is, a program or webap that pulls content from many different sources and puts them in one place and one format for your reading or viewing pleasure. Aggregators come in a few different flavours:

  • Desktop: these are software applications that require downloading and installation on a computer.  Outlook counts as one of these.
  • Web-based: online aggregators live on the web and require users to set up a username and password to access them. To access a web-based aggregator, you go to the site, login, and read your feeds online. The advantage of web-based aggregators is that you can access them from multiple computers (home, work, service desks, etc.). Two popular web-based aggregators are Bloglines and Google Reader.
  • Browser-based: the latest versions of many browsers (like Firefox and Internet Explorer 7) include the ability to subscribe to and read RSS feeds right in the browser.
Why should I use it?

Firstly, feed readers are incredible time savers. Having a program that checks y0ur favourite websites and blogs for updates for you is a lot quicker and easier than doing it yourself each morning. It’s also a great way to keep track of industry news – there are a lot of library bloggers out there (if mainly based in the USA) and some insightful commentary, not to mention an entire sub-genre of bloggers dedicated to using technology in libraries. A lot of our vendors and suppliers also publish news that can be relevant to you or to your students, advertising new features or soliciting feedback.  It’s also good for things like webcomics, which are often updated on the creator’s whim – it saves you checking in every day to see if there’s something new.

Some aggregators, like Google Reader, also allow you to easily share news items that you found interesting, funny or important with other people. This is the primary reason why for, our 23 Things, we’ll be focusing on Google Reader.

To Complete Thing 6

  1. Watch this video:
  2. Log in to Google Reader. Your account was already set up when you created your gmail account.
  3. Subscribe to:
    • This blog.
    • The blogs of at least three other 23 Thingers. You’ll get bonus brownie points if you subscribe to everyone’s.
    • 2 other feeds. Look for blogs that are about topics that interest you. Feedster and Search4RSS are good places to start looking, as are the more famous Technorati and Google Blog Search. You can also pick some from the list below.
  4. Write a post in your blog talking about why you picked one of your feeds.
  5. Don’t forget to check your reader periodically for new updates! This is the last week that you’ll get an e-mail reminder that the new Things are out – after that you’ll have to check your reader.

Some Feeds that the Practically Perfect Programmer Subscribes to:

Industry:

  • The Annoyed Librarian – occasionally insightful, often amusing, generally contrary, the Annoyed Librarian is an anonymous academic blogger controversially hosted by the Library Journal
  • iLibrarian – Ellyssa Kroski’s blog dedicated to news and resources on Library 2.0 and the information revolution.
  • In the Library with the Lead Pipe – an open access, peer-reviewed library blog with very high quality articles.
  • Librarian in Black – the new-look blog of Sarah Houghton-Jan, library consultant, trainer and the Digital Futures Manager for the San José Public Library.
  • Librarians Matter – the blog of Kathryn Greenhill, emerging technologies specialist at Murdoch.
  • Library Stuff – an Information Today blog that keeps track of press mentions and various developments in the library sector. You’ll see a lot of these pop up on WAIN at some point or another – be ahead of the WAIN curve!
  • Miss Information – The desperate life of a tormented library clerk.
  • The Shifted Librarian – Jenny Levine writes and speaks about how technology trends affect libraries.
  • Unshelved – a library webcomic. The action is set in a public library, but much of the humour translates well to other library types.

Other:

  • Ars Technica – a respected technology news an information site.
  • Bad Science – dedicated to shining the light on journalists misreporting science for the sake of headlines and politicians and advertisters more interested in spin than evidence.
  • Basic Instructions – Scott Meyer’s all-inclusive guide to a life well-lived in webcomic form.
  • Kotaku Australia – game news and information with an Australian focus
  • Recording Industry vs the People – New York Attorney Ray Beckerman’s blog following sham “copyright infringement” lawsuits brought by the RIAA, and other areas of concern to digital online copyright law. Beckerman is also a very prolific twitterer
  • Somebody Think of the Children! – A blog examining and reporting on censorship and moral panics in Australia
  • Strange Maps – as the name implies, a blog devoted to strange, funny and sometimes beautiful maps.
  • Wired (top stories) – the most popular or interesting articles posted to Wired Magazine’s website
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