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The first assignment for the course was to create an account with an RSS feed reader and subscribe to a few feeds. RSS reminds me of something called “Push” about a dozen years ago which was followed by Microsoft’s ‘channels’ feature in IE4 and 5. The solution to the problem of keeping up with all the miriad of websites one needed to visit to stay up to date in the online world.  Many websites have incorporated their own e-mail subscription features especially for forums.

RSS allows you to subscribe to websites or specific sections or pages of websites without visiting them or giving up your e-mail address. In practice your needs must fit this solution quite closely for it to be useful. It must be a website you want, or need, to see updates to, but is not updated so often that you would visit it regularly anyway. Blogs and really narrowly focused news pages would likely fit this description. Further, you need to use an RSS reader service this may create yet another thing to log into, another ID and password.

Windows Vista users can employ a Widget sitting on the desktop which is integrated with both IE and Outlook.  Simply clicking the RSS logo adds the feed to IE7. Pretty handy, however, the Widget can only pull from one feed. To make this work for me I subscribed IE to my own reader page in Google’s reader service.

For organizations RSS is a frustrating thing because of the anonymity. There is no way you can tell anything about the people that are subscribing to your feeds except how many they are are what feed readers they are using. For information consumers and providers alike, RSS could be a talking frog. Cool but, perhaps, ultimately pointless. Time will tell.

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One Comment

    • grejen711
    • Posted January 22, 2009 at 11:28 am
    • Permalink

    “To make this work for me I subscribed IE to my own reader page in Google’s reader service.” – turns out this doesn’t acutally work because you have to visit you’re google feedreader page to have it update and thus update the IE reader. So if I still have to go log into a site rather than visit 2 or 3 sites without logging in.


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