Wednesday, November 09, 2005

RSS feeds - Really Simple Syndication — or Rarely Seen Stories?

We keep hearing about how wonderful RSS feeds are as a communication tool, but I have been confused by them. Bradley recently added an RSS feed for news headlines - but I have had some difficulty accessing it. Like most people who haven't encountered many RSS feed addresses before, I first tried to click on the link provided. That, as you probably already know, takes you to a page displaying the code for the feed. You have to paste the address into an RSS feed reader, which will display the headlines. Unfortunately, this doesn't always work. I have discovered that some readers won't display some feeds. For example, I tried to paste the address into a couple different "widgets" on my "dashboard" and they could not communicate with the Bradley RSS feed.

I tried downloading one of the free RSS feed programs. That did display the Bradley feed nicely, but it also provided tons of others that I wasn't interested in. I didn't want to spend a lot of time customizing this to display the feeds I wanted in a manageable format, so I deleted it.

Someone suggested I use the Firefox browser. Its "RSS integration lets you read the latest news headlines and read updates to your favorite sites that are syndicated." That sounded great. I opened up Firefox, hoping I would be able to see right away how I could use this feature. It wasn't obvious, I got distracted with something else, and never went back to find instructions.

When Tim was here reinstalling my OSX(see previous entry), he showed me how simple this was. You go to, for example, click on the link for "RSS." Look down at the bottom of the screen for the orange signal icon. Tap it and you will see all the CNN feeds you can subscribe to. You will be given the option of adding the feed to your bookmarks bar. He also showed me how this blog already has an RSS feed, which I didn't know. We added it to my bookmarks, clicked on it, and then the titles for my posts appeared.

We have been talking about creating an RSS feed for some of the stories that appear in the many departmental newsletters Publications produces. How will we add the links? Where will the stories live? What do we call it?

Keep exploring, keep learning, keep trying!

No comments: