RSS (Really Simple Syndication) – Translation: Your Own Personal Newspaper

A lot of us have started to blog for a variety of reasons.  For us in 27J, it is a way of increasing district communication, understanding what each of us does and how that affects our schools and our students.  It’s one of the many attempts at getting everybody on the same page.  Managing what we want to read is important; it helps us eliminate the junk.  Some blogs (such as this one) are subscribable by email, but who wants to further clog our already overflowing inboxes.  I have a solution (not necessarily new to the world, but possibly new to you) – it’s called an RSS reader.

First we need to understand the term RSS.   It is another acronym that stands for Really Simple Syndication.  The words “Really” and “Simple” are familiar to all of us – even though we don’t necessarily equate “really simple” with anything that deals with technology.  The “Syndication” part of it deals with the widespread distibution of information.   All mainstream blogs are set up to be syndicated and Edublog blogs are no different.  You can tell when something is syndicated by the symbol you see (usually in the address bar of your browser).  It looks like this:

This symbol lets you know that the page you are viewing is \

If you click this symbol, you will be taken to a page where the feed URL is displayed (copy it and paste it into your RSS reader’s “add content” option).

If you see this symbol, you automatically know that a page is able to be pulled into a reader that will personalize the information that comes your way.  Setting up an RSS reader is very easy and there are a lot of services out there that you can set up as your own personal newspaper.  Here are a few of my favorite:

  • Netvibes:  This has a very cool look to it (kind of like a newspaper). It’s easy to use, but is not easily integrated into a browser (translation:  when you click the RSS symbol, there is no option for Netvibes).
  • iGoogle: What doesn’t Google have?  They call it iGoogle and it sets up your own personal home page.  On this home page, you’ll link to all of your Google services as well as your RSS feeds.  The nice thing is that it integrates with your browser.  If you click the RSS symbol in the address bar and click “subscribe,” your browser will ask you whether you want to pull that site’s information into your Google reader (or iGoogle).
  • Bloglines: Bloglines was my first RSS reader and I will always hold a special place for it in my web-life.  It is very simple to use and easy to configure.  It is integrated into most browsers (making subscribing to RSS feeds very easy) and it just works.  Graphically, it’s not beautiful (just a framed page that lists your subscriptions), but functionally it is extremely easy to use and manage.

You can find more information on RSS readers at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSS_reader – in this article they are referred to as aggregators (other names:  feed reader, news reader, reader, rss aggregator).  If you prefer the Oprah definition, check out this site or this explanation.

So, if you’re interested in your own personal newspaper, check out an RSS Reader.  There’s really no risk involved – they’re free and pretty easy (once you get a handle on the one you choose).  So, check them out and when you figure it out, subscribe to my blog!

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