In scoping out how Web 2.0 is impacting classrooms, I needed a way to track and return to sites of interest. Google is great for doing a wide sweep (or my new favorite, duck duck go) and social bookmarking sites like diigo (my all time favorite since it lets you annotate right on the page and highlight snippets that you can e-mail) are great for cataloging and sharing resources, but I still couldn't keep up. I often stumble upon blogs, columns, interesting news sites, or even activity calendars that I really like, so I save them—sometimes to diigo, sometimes to Internet Explorer’s Favorites, and sometimes to Firefox’s Bookmarks—and then try to remember to visit them later. My various lists of favorites are now littered with content that is over a year old and stale, having little relevance to what I need today.
So I've started this adventure with setting up some subscriptions to have stories delivered to me through RSS feeds. Why have I resisted all this time in trying RSS? I thought it would be too complicated or take too much time. Maybe I would have to download some software, configure it properly, maybe know how to do some coding or learn a secret handshake... Maybe it was the fact that no one can agree as to what RSS stands for that made it seem complicated. RDF Site Summary, Rich Site Summary, Really Simple Syndication (the most common), or as one hip Web site chose to call it, Ready for Some Stories. In layman's terms, they describe RSS this way:
With RSS, you can "subscribe" to a website or blog, and get "fed" all the new headlines from all of [your subscribed] sites and blogs in one list, and see what's going on in minutes instead of hours.
© 2007 Thriving Media. Image used by permission.
But I think mostly it was the idea that I would have to have yet another program running on my taskbar (which isn't necessarily true). But I admit it. I need some organizational help. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be trying out a variety of methods of subscribing to blog and news feeds: the RSS built into Internet Explorer, dedicated RSS readers (Google Reader, bloglines, newsgator), and some "start page" resources that do more than just read RSS subscriptions (symbaloo, netvibes, iGoogle, and Pageflakes).
If you haven't tried one or more of these RSS readers, I invite you to experiment with me. Or, do you have a RSS reader that you just love? Either way, please share your experiences.
If you need some help in getting started, take a look at my how-to article that focuses on RSS: Using RSS to Enrich Your Life.
If you have not read the previous article/blogs that introduce Web 2.0, you may want to start at the beginning of this series.