“How long this (RSS) exists…?”“For many years …” I replied.“So how come I do not know that …?” she snapped to me.“I think you actually ask: “How do you know things in general, right …?” I challenge her. “I think one way to know how to know, is using RSS”, I answered.
What is it and what it is good for?
RSS is a piece of software code in a website which sends a message across the network whenever new content is published in this website. So, if we want to be updated whenever the news of the Business section on CNN, there are two possibilities to do this: first – to enter the site again and again and again, and wait for a new story to born … of course it’s an inefficient way. The other option is to “take” the RSS feed of the channel of the Business section in CNN, incorporate it into a tool used to read (Receive) RSS feeds like Google Reader, and then, whenever a new story section, this news will automatically appear on the screen 0f your RSS reader. Here is a great video clip which explains the nature of RSS in plain English:
Wait! Is like receiving Google Alerts, isn’t it?
Well, not exactly…. Google Alerts is a great way to get E-Mail-like messages directly to your E-Mail inbox, however, it is not possible to search “within” the text of the alert In short, why not enjoy a larger variety of capabilities, and with less effort?
So what now?
So what we can do now is adding the RSS feeds to our Google Reader, from websites, from writers, and – and this is so cool – receive updates on a topic or a subject or a term that interest us.
Okay … but why do you recommend Google Reader specifically?
Wait! In my organization we are not allowed to access the Internet. What can I do?
Now, let’s get to work:
An RSS feed from a website:
Not every site includes RSS, but – the number of those is currently dwindling. Many sites are allowing a wide variety of RSS feeds on their sites. As demonstrated before, you can take RSS feed from websites that interests you, for example, the Whitehouse Blog or variety of channels at MOMA. Try and experience for yourself!
An RSS feed from an author’s (writer) website (blog):
All blog offer at least one RSS channel from the writer’s blog, so you can get updated every time a blogger publishes a new post. You can receive RSS feeds updates from Tom Friedman’s blog or you can follow a discussion held in a blog, in response to an interesting and challenging post.
And now – updates via RSS on a topic, subject or term (or co-operation between Google and Microsoft that works for the users!)
So we’ve included so many feeds, but something is still missing….Imagine that you are willing to know what was written and published on the subject that interests us, but – we do not know where the information is published!
First, we will explain how to do it: In fact, we need to find a search engine in which we will enter a word, a subject, a term or a phrase that interests us. But – we are not looking for just any search engine – this search engine must have an RSS capability, that can produce and RSS feed for the results! Why? Because the search engine bots index the web continuously, and whenever they find appropriate update of the phrase or the term that we are looking for, they ‘broadcast’ the RSS feed to our RSS Reader! Cool, isn’t it?!
Well, RSS reader now my sea flooded! How can you filter the flux and focus it?
Here’s a little awkward, but very effective – here also I suggest a combination of Google and Bing search engines to work for us: 1. Create a focused ‘search sentence’ using Google Advanced Search screen, 2. Copy this sentence to Bing, and 3. Copy the address of the results page to your Google Reader…Confused ?Here is a brief explanation:
Say we want to be updated whenever the there are news in regard of Elections, which contains the word ‘Obama‘ and ‘Clinton‘, which contains the word Opposition or a Coalition, but without the phrase ‘Cabinet member’. Write down the corresponding entries in the four fields at the top of the advanced search screen, and press Enter. Now, copy the search sentence from the Google search field, and paste it to Bing search field, press Enter, and then, copy the address of the results page to Google Reader. That’s it!
Why using the combination of the advanced search screen on Google and not Bing? Just because right now, it has many more options than advanced search in Bing.
The power of knowledge – a combination and cooperation!
Any Social Media application or social-tool is fascinating and very interesting. But, the combination of applications together is always a significant force-multiplier. For example, you can have an RSS feed update whenever a new presentation on Learning is uploaded SlideShare presentation sharing website, or whenever a tweet that HashTaged #Obama is tweeted, or when a new bookmark on ‘Knowledge Management’ is added to Delicious, or When ‘Yigal Chamish’ published a new video on YouTube!
You can also search within your RSS reader, but even more than that:
Google Reader allows searching for content, on any of the RSS feeds included, even if the piece was published in the channel before you added the feed to your Google Reader! Try it!
But RSS allows not only to “take” but also to “give” (Share):
Google Reader offer measures that allow us to share your filtered content, with others. Beneath each RSS item you will find several links. If you wish, you can ‘share’, ‘share with a comment’, ‘send email’ with this feed to any recipient, you can share with others using online social media applications, such as FaceBook or Twitter, and more.
Sharing by clicking on Share, allows us to share your update channels, with others. Who are these ‘others’? Anyone who follows you on Google Reader. You can also keep track of colleagues who share their feeds – and that is a huge advantage, because you will be updated with filtered information based on your colleagues knowledge, you know you can rely on.
Wait, so how do you know to know…?
And one more small issue I forgot… If you want to catch up what’s new in Google Reader, so you can catch up here…. It’s easy.
In short, Google Reader becomes the latest Personal Information System we can build for ourselves for free. The sky is not the limit, but much more.