One of my tasks today has been to organize my RSS feeds. I’ve never used RSS feeds before, preferring to go to each blog individually for the visuals. After reading Richardson‘s assertion that I could “read more content from more sources in less time” (p. 72 in Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts), I realized that was exactly what I needed from my RSS. The amount of information I’m trying to keep up with is too much for me to read effectively without some “power” strategies to help me skim and filter.
I had started up a newsreader in Bloglines, somewhat at random, and had stuffed a number of interesting blogs and sources into it. I had already saved all of the class blogs that I needed to follow in a bookmarks folder on my browser (my usual method). Today I started the process of opening all of them and transferring the links to the RSS aggregator. None of them have a specialized RSS link for me to click on (since these are mostly beginner learning blogs), but I was able to use the home web address of each blog into the RSS list. Only two of the blog addresses did not cooperate with the process.
I also set up a folder on the reader for “class blogs” to organize the content. It seemed to work well to set up the folder first, and enter the links I wanted. To be clear about that process, I pasted blog web address into the “new context” box, which generated several “widgets.” I then picked one widget for each blog (usually the one marked RSS), and dragged it into the appropriate folder.
This gave me instant information (how many new posts for each blog in the reader), and all of the blogs neatly arranged to assess easily. Best of all, I did not have to constantly click back to a bookmark folder to find the next blog or post.
Blogs with new content were bolded and numbered, showing me at a glance what had not been read. I could mark single or several posts as read or unread. I expect this is standard procedure for most RSS feeds.
Although I was a little lukewarm about the usefulness of the RSS feed initially, I am won over by the ease with which I can follow all of my fellow students’ postings. Now to organize my other educational feeds. I don’t know if I would use feeds for my usual recreational reading because the visuals are part of the pleasure of the visit, but for churning through other reading, it’s a Godsend. Now if I can figure out how to post a few of these feeds to my blog, I’d be set. I’d settle for my blogroll links showing up as they are supposed to. Next up: introducing a few of my regular reads.