TechTalk Blog

Welcome to the first real post of the TechTalk Blog. Since we’ve yet to discuss what exactly we want to use the blog for, I thought I’d just post a quick introduction to blogs and RSS feed readers.

The best way to understand blogs and RSS feeds is to read and use them. A quick RSS analogy would be a subscription to a newspaper or a magazine – when you subscribe to them, they are delivered to your doorstep or mailbox whenever there’s a new issue. You don’t have to go to the store to pick it up. Similarly, when you subscribe to an RSS feed for a blog, news site, etc., you are notified whenever new content is uploaded to that site.

In order to subscribe to an RSS feed, you need to use a feed reader, also called an aggregator. I use Bloglines, which is free and easy to use, but there are several other options such as Feedreader and Google Reader (here’s a list of aggregators if you want more choices).

So, here’s an exercise for you. Choose an aggregator right now and subscribe to this blog. Look at the bottom of this page for the link that says Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS). Copy the URL that’s associated with them, and paste them in your subscribe window.

Done? Good. Now you’ll always now when one of us has made a new entry, and if you subscribe to the comments as well, you’ll know whenever someone makes a comment.

One of the best things about blogs, and what we hope to do here, is their potential to build a community of readers. Sometimes the best things about a blog is the dialog that can occur in the comments between the blogger and the readers, and the readers among themselves. Like most communities, people have to be willing to participate – and in a virtual world, no one knows you’re there unless you comment, you can’t just lurk on the fringe.

So, here’s your second assignment: comment on this blog. To start, why don’t you share which aggregator you chose? If you are experienced with blogs and RSS readers, explain why you use the aggregator you do. If this is your first time using an aggregator, let us know. If you couldn’t figure out the aggregator, tell us in your comment. Make suggestions of other blog subscriptions that you think would be of interest to this group.

I’m looking forward to some interesting discussions and to co-adminstrating this blog. I hope you are too!

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~ by Anali on January 10, 2007.

12 Responses to “TechTalk Blog”

  1. Anali–
    Thanks for first-posting. I actually have a couple topics I want to post, but I’m waiting for vendor responses before I share. I would like to see updates from area libraries on technology projects, especially when someone is trying something new.

    Your discussion of RSS is great– I use Bloglines and find it invaluable in keeping up with industry trends. I’ve already added an MCLC Tech Talk feed.
    –Dan

  2. I like to use the my.yahoo.com home page to aggregate all of my rss feeds. This way I can also customize the page to show weather, travel info, ski reports and everything else all in one spot.

    -Eric

  3. Good point, Eric! It’s nice to have everything in one place. I also use Protopage to organize a lot of my web/work material, and I’ve also heard good things about Netvibes.

  4. I use Netvibes every day, as a new aggregator and an organizer. I like the ability to mouse over the blog post headings on my Netvibes page and see the first paragraph of the blog post without having to open it. I also use Netvibes to keep my to-do list and notes for different things. Best of all, Netvibes has API modules that allow me to search library catalog, Amazon, multiple search engines or blogs, to play games, to use my Google calendar and to download Flickr photos from my Netvibes page. Now whenever I have a chance, I encourage all the web designers or programmers to write APIs (Application Programming Interface) for their sites to share on Netvibes — just to make my information-gathering even easier. Here is a Netvibes tutorial.

    Roseline

  5. I also use Protopage because it does not take too much time to configure, yet it looks unique and like it was my very own website. Loads of widgets in its showcase plus 750 search engines, quite extraordinary.

  6. Hello all. I remember when RSS was first explained to me. I didn’t think I would ever find a need for it, but I jumped in anyway. Now I am a complete addict. I like to try out all the various aggregators, but lately I have settled with the Google Reader as my main source. I use my gmail account for many other things, so it is convenient. It had some serious design issues when it was first released, but the improvements since then have impressed me.
    I find it difficult to explain to either customers or other staff members exactly why RSS is so great, although I’m sure that if I could get them through the hoops of signing on, I could spread the addiction. I agree with some of the experts that say there are serious usability issues with RSS (the article is old, but still true) and I think those issues are keeping RSS from becoming mainstream. Newer browsers are building RSS in, which may help that mainstream crowd. At the same time most techies I know are moving away from any browser-specific personalization.
    One Library Stuff post predicts that RSS will surpass email for content delivery in the next 4-9 years. It will be interesting to see if and how that happens.

  7. I’ve used NetVibes, My Yahoo and Google Reader in the past. I stick with Bloglines because once my aggregator reached some kind of critical mass (say, more than fifteen feeds), inertia set in, and I just can’t work up the energy to transfer everything to a new interface. Not that it would be all that hard. I’ve considered just using Firefox, but our City doesn’t support it on our desktops. I could load it, but if I ever had to re-image, I’d have to start from scratch. I’m going to check out Protopage. A couple of you have mentioned it, and I haven’t seen it yet.

  8. Like Dan, I keep using Bloglines mainly because it’s what I started with and due to inertia and laziness in exporting an OPML file, I’ve kept with it.

  9. […] Tech Talk Information, news and events for library workers in Maricopa County, Arizona « TechTalk Blog Scottsdale Public Library on Flickr […]

  10. I like to use google reader just to keep track of all of my RSS feeds. Then I export the OPML file to the reader of the week. 🙂

    -Eric

  11. Eric, What is a OPML file?

  12. OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language) is an XML format for outlines. Originally developed by Radio UserLand as a native file format for an outliner application, it has since been adopted for other uses, the most common being to exchange lists of RSS feeds between RSS aggregators.
    – From Wikipedia.org

    So, it’s a format for exporting and importing your RSS feed list between readers.

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