Response to lesson 3: RSS

I love RSS.  My Firefox RSS folder is bursting at the seams with all of the assorted feeds I follow.  The browser comes equipped with a BBC News feed, which is where I got hooked.  We used to get the newspaper when I was younger, but my household no longer subscribes to a local paper, and I had been missing the news.  Not any more!  RSS allows me to scan headlines faster and more efficiently than I ever could in a print copy of the paper.  And as an added bonus, BBC and other sites have a social feature embedded in their pages: I can see which articles are being read the most, and which are being most frequently shared.  The numbers are usually in favour of interesting or contentious topics, like incredible scientific discoveries or (sigh) more public shootings.  Despite my personal level of interest in the topics that are presented in the “most popular” section, I feel that as a librarian, I should keep myself up to date on current events. (This would go double if I was working at a reference desk!)  The combination of RSS and social metrics on news sites makes it very easy for me to be aware of current events.
RSS feeds are an excellent tool for keeping informed while keeping information overload at bay.  With my Advanced Information Filtering Skills ™, I can skim titles of stories or pages and determine which ones are relevant to me and which ones I will ignore.  Personal blogs can be more hit-and-miss than feeds from official news channels, but the opportunity to get a personal perspective, sometimes different from my own and sometimes not, is refreshing.  The downside to this is that some people write excellent content with really terrible titles.  It’s great for you if you like to keep your entries arranged numerically, but it gives me no idea what each of your varied entries is about, and it turns me off of your feed.  (It also makes it  harder for me to remember things I liked – “Oh yeah, entry 11282010 was really informative!”) 
When it comes to the use of RSS in libraries, I’m all for it as long as the content is there.  If you only update your feed once a month, it might not be necessary – the slowest feed in my list only updates once a week, and I really only have it there to remind myself to look at it every once in a while.  Technological ADD is beginning to rear its ugly head in my life.  But an RSS feed for a library blog, especially if the bloggers are active, is a great idea.  It seems to cost next to nothing in terms of effort, server space, and webpage real estate, and it adds another layer of accessibility to the new (and not-so-new) generation of web-savvy information addicts.
The fact that RSS capability is built into my browser makes it very convenient to use the feature, and I had very little trouble figuring out the ins and outs of subscribing.  The theme I chose for my blog already had RSS included, so that was a step I didn’t have to take.  In terms of this week’s lesson, my only complaint is the size of the screenshots.  I use a netbook for a lot of my personal computer time, and the giant screenshots are really hard to navigate on a tiny screen.  I would like to see thumbnails linked to the full size images.  (Even on my larger monitor, I still have to scroll sideways to see everything. I hate scrolling sideways.)

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Response to lesson 3: RSS

  1. Diane

    Thanks for sharing your experience with RSS, and your thoughts on the lesson. Somebody else in the class was that they liked the screenshots right there in the blog since everything was in one place, and they didn’t have to click back and forth to see everything. It’s all about personal preference, I guess! 🙂

    • Personal preference and screen size – I do a lot of things on my tiny little netbook, so I notice when websites’ layouts aren’t small-resolution friendly. Dropdown menus can be killers! (Please forgive my fixation – we’re been working with the accessibility people lately at work, and it’s on my mind. )

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