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RSS Resources

Page history last edited by John E. Martin 16 years, 2 months ago

RSS Resources



These resources should help you understand what RSS is and why it is important to you. It also will help you begin to use RSS to manage the flow of information important to you.


Ok, so what is RSS?

Depending on who you ask, RSS can stand for either Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary, though most folks simply refers to it as RSS, a subscription or a feed. At its heart, RSS is a way for content authors to package and deliver content in a specific format that is easily accessible. Readers then subscribe to that content, hence the use of the term syndication.


An oft used analogy equates an RSS feed to a newspaper subscription. Hourly, daily, weekly, your subscription arrives in your "mailbox," a tool known as an aggregator, or feed reader. No additional work is required on your part, beyond viewing the content. And the subscription continues until you cancel. Now the newspaper analogy is a bit simplistic as RSS can be used in much richer ways, take the reading list I developed for a graduate level course on educational technology as an example. As I find articles that are pertinent to our studies, I add them to my del.icio.us account with the tag CE5560. I then used a script, provided by del.icio.us, to embed that feed into the Course Readings wiki page. The possibile applications of RSS are just beginning to be tapped, not just text, but search queries, images, audio, and video files as well!


The following video by Common Craft does a great job of explaining the ins and outs of RSS.



In order to harness the power of RSS, you need a way to read it comfortably. I recommend starting with an aggregator, otherwise known as a feed reader. But first, familiarize yourself with the images in the column to the right. Each of these are examples of the common way in which web authors advertise their feeds. They are typically found on blogs but can be found on any number of web resources. If you are using Firefox, Flock, or Internet Explorer 7, you can also find these icons in the address bar. This enables you to subscribe to the feed directly from your browser.


Feed Readers (Aggregators)

As mentioned earlier, a feed reader, or aggregator, is a tool which enables us to view our RSS subscriptions. There are online readers for those of us digital nomads who prefer to be able to read our feeds whether we are at home on our own computer or on the road at some cyber cafe. There are also offline readers for those whose work takes them beyond the range of an Internet connection.


The following is by no means a comprehensive list, however I have used all of these readers myself and feel relatively comfortable recommending them to others.



BlogLines - A free web-based feed reader.

Google Reader - A free feed reader provided by Google.

Yahoo Mail - Feed reader built into the Yahoo Mail client.



BlogBridge - A free feed reader which provides both online and offline capabilities.

SharpReader - A Windows-based feed reader which is clean but does require .Net to run.

Flock - Not just a feed reader, but a browser too! Built on Mozilla Firefox, Flock integrates feed reading, blog editing, image sharing and bookmarking through a single browser interface.

Microsoft Outlook 2007 - My review of this product can be found here.



Additionally feed readers are now built into Firefox 2, Safari and Internet Explorer 7.  


OPML, huh what?

OPML or Outline Processor Markup Language enables you to export and share your feeds with others. Want to give OPML a spin? Feel free to download my OPML list and import it into your feed reader of choice. These feeds include quite a few edublogs, some library links, some research links and some creativity and knowledge management links.


That's all well and good, but how might this be useful in a scholastic or business setting you ask? Consider that you are having each of your students maintain a blog or perhaps you have culled a list of resources that your students would find helpful in their own learning. Simply subscribe to the feeds you wish to share and export the list as an OPML file. Now share this with your students along with instruction on how to use a feed reader and empower them to start managing knowledge on their own. Soon they will be able to subscribe to other resources and in turn share those with their learning community.


For more OPML goodness, check out Blogbridge's Library service. You can search by category to find OPML lists pertaining to a number of genres such as advertising, business, politics, science and technology and much more.


Tutorials & Support

If you find any, please pass them on!



My thanks to derekeb, georgygrrl, kolson29, mcteach, mctoonish, mrplough07, mtnlaurel, njtechteacher and schwier for reviewing and suggesting improvements to this page.


For future inclusion

Screen shots of location of RSS subscription buttons, Add to Buttons, etc.

Google Gears

De-geek the first paragraph

Sharing of feeds/favorites








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