All about Blogging and RSS Feeds

Michelle Breen For LNSS Project March 12th 2009

A little bit of history from the 1990’s

In the mid 2000s
• 7% of the 120 million U.S. adults who use the internet have created a blog. • 40,000 new blogs added every day • Still 62% of online Americans do not know what a blog is

What is a blog?
• Website, listed chronologically, with written content and links. • Most use software for easy publication. • Calendars, Permalinks, Archives, RSS, blogroll, comments. • Easy Easy Easy Easy Easy…

What’s a blog? A Web Log, a log being a diary
• A blogger = you • Journal | Newsletter | diary online that is frequently updated, and displayed in reverse chronological order. Most have rss feeds. • Blogroll- collection of web log feeds.
• Examples:

• Bebo | myspace | • Brooklyn College Library on MySpace • Hennepin County Library on MySpace

What are Blogs?
• These bits of writing, perhaps called “entries” or “posts,” generally appear on the front page of the weblog, with the newest entry at the top, and older entries further down. Entries are usually fairly short, maybe a sentence or a paragraph, but can be much longer. Entries might be written about other websites, including links to them, but they might also be the author’s thoughts on events, politics, their own life… anything. The most often cited history of weblogs is Rebecca Blood’s.

• •

Types of Blogs
• Personal
– Personal diaries published on the web where people share their personal life experiences; friends, family, books, music and more – sometimes…

• Commercial
– Business blogs that are used to publish press releases, manage job boards, share information between internal project teams, develop deeper relationships with customers and more.

• Professional
– Businesses and professionals who decided

Types of Blogs
• Political
– Blogs dominated by the discussion of political news and events

• Internal Communication
– Project management, class discussions, sharing commentary, news, and/or links about a particular topic that is of organizational importance

Blogs in Organizations
• Improves distribution of information throughout your organization • Captures information for short and long term reference • Fosters cross-discipline communication of information • Localizes information and increases findability • Accommodates collaborative discussions

Blogs in Everyday life
• Breaking, shaping, spinning the news. • Used by political candidates to recruit volunteers and money. • Eyewitness testimony. • Used as an information source in mainstream journalism courses.

Why blog in a library?
• Students want faster access to information • How many of you have ever updated a website? • How many of you now have a blog, that only you can update!

Why should your library have a blog?
• They’re an easy way to provide information about what’s happening in your library. • Little to no (X)HTML experience necessary. • Combined with RSS feeds it’s another way for patrons to receive timely information about the library.

Why use blogs in a library
• Easy to distribute content • Communication within the building (reference desk) • Great for Library Web pages.

Why use blogs in a library
• Library News • Reference Desk Discussion (FARQs, patrons, etc) • New Acquisitions. • Consortia • Book Clubs • Backend CMS only

What are blogs good for?
• • • • • Communication Circulating documents/files/photos Reducing emails Issue logs Posting information on the web without web design or programming knowledge

What Blogs are not good for
• Two way/dynamic communication • Reaching users who lack internet access. • Private or secure information

Why not? (Disadvantages)
• • • • • • • Information Overload?! Have to continuously update them Takes time on behalf of the writer Crossposting Subjective Reliability of content No Rules

Library Needs
• One or more authors? • One or more blogs? • To host or not to host?

Blog features to consider
• • • • • Calendar Customizable Templates Search feature Spell-check feature for authors RSS feed

Congratulations! You are now a) using Web 2 point oh and b) part of the “Blogosphere” “…the collective term encompassing all weblogs or blogs as a community or social network…”

• Weblogs
– – – – Create a library weblog Additional or new library resources Introduce members of staff Use it as a repository of data and information by using categories and tags – A blog can be more than just a diary – it’s an important website in its own right…

Anyone can be a blogger but to be a good blogger,
• Don’t get me wrong. Blogging isn’t for everyone, and I’ll be stressing this when I give this actual talk Monday after next. It does take certain qualities in a person to be a good blogger: • - good communication skills; be able to talk easily - ability to be consistent - ability to be articulate in speech - passion about something, be it sport, music, etc. - ability to give a block of time each time to the writing and upkeep of your blog

This is an the blog of the guy who runs the Irish Blog Awards

One of the 2009 winners

Best newcomer at Irish Blog Awards 2009

Sample library blogs

• Waterboro Public Library ( • Georgia State University Libraries ( • Rosedale Public Library Blogger Book Club ( )

More sample library blogs
• Construction Diary ( • University of Minnesota Libraries ( • Wisconsin Library Association ( • Suburban Library System (

Who? (LIS Specific)
• Peter Scott’s List ( • LISBlogsource – ( • ODP Library Weblogs – ( • Blog Without a Library - ( )

Why having a blog is good for you professionally
• Stand out in the crowd. • Best way to publish without trade publications (on your own terms) • Finding your niche ( • Write everyday • Marketing the Librarian – (

Blogs in a nutshell
• • • • Web based Instant Reverse chronological Links, within entries and collected separately • Community participation • Types: personal, political, community, academic, corporate, professional, subject specialists, institutional, news, service • Bloglines and blogrolls
Examples • Slashdot • LISNews • Librarian Avengers • Librarian's Rant • Librarians & Library staff in the UK • Kept-Up Academic Librarian • Lorcan Dempsey's weblog • Librarian in Black • Mesoj • PLA Blog • Radical Reference

What’s RSS
• “…RDF Site Summary, or Rich Site Summary, or Really Simple Syndication – A lightweight XML format for distributing news headlines and other content on the Web.”

and in my words…

RSS allows you to access information you are interested in from the one place. It is like customizing an online newspaper to only show news you want to read. The owner syndicates the data, and you subscribe to it. The data automatically updates. You use a browser , a browser addon or a program to view the data.

How does RSS work?
• The author creates an RSS file. • Users subscribe to the file via an aggregator. • When the author updates the RSS file, the user is automatically notified of the new items and may read them on their schedule.

RSS 101
• Content from the Web which is parsed into a file (.xml or .rss or .php) • Can’t be read in a browser on its own. • Look for the orange button!!! • Steven’s Personalized Page (DEMO)

Examples of Companies that Syndicate Content via RSS
• Chronicle of Higher Education – • Reuters – ( • New York Times – • Christian Science Monitor –

Why RSS feeds are useful for a library
• Subscribe once, constant updates then fed to you

RSS- How to Read
• Special piece of software - Called news reader, feedreader, or aggregator to display rss feeds. Download one or access online. • They gather all your feeds in one place. • Like a newspaper - more personalized, with all your feeds displaying within its pages.

How can I read these feeds?

You can download and install a news reader. Or, you can use a Web based reader such as My Yahoo! or Bloglines. Follow the instructions in your reader to subscribe to the feed of your choice. You will usually need to copy and paste the feed URL into the reader.

Use MS Outlook

Subscribing to an RSS feed
• The following icon means that a RSS feed is available on a website:

For example, on the BBC Health News website

To subscribe to a RSS feed
• Click on the orange icon and following webpage appears

There are several ways to subscribe to the RSS feed. For example cut and paste the RSS URL into your reader/aggregator

RSS Readers/ Aggregators
RSS Feeds can be read in: • Web-based aggregators – need a username and password, but can be read on any PC Desk-top readers – software installed on PC and feeds download when connected to the internet Web browser – feeds can be read in a web browser Personalised start pages

• •

Web-based Aggregators
• Bloglines (

• NewsGator (

Google Reader (

Desktop Readers
• FeedReader

Web Browsers
• Firefox and Internet Explorer 7 will store and display RSS feeds

Personalised Page Starters

RSS Feeds - homework
• Use Google username and password to open Google Reader • Subscribe to some BBC feeds from their website • Set up a PubMed RSS feed on a specific topic • Create a Dialog Datastar search feed • Try a Google News/Yahoo News RSS feed

Advantages of RSS
• Cutting edge technology • No advertisements to deal with • More and more join RSS every day • Saves lots of time (4 hours  30 minutes) • Can be syndicated onto a web site • Syndication works well for frequently and infrequently update sites

Disadvantages of RSS
• • • • No filtering by keyword Can become unruly, quickly Not Everything is RSSified Difficult to synchronize aggregator between multiple computers (but...)

Top RSS ReadersMicrosoft Survey Sept 2006
1. Bloglines 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Zhuaxia (Chinese) Google Reader GreatNews FeedDemon NetNewsWire IE7
• Access from any computer: • Bloglines, Google Reader • • • • From My computer: Download: Greatnews Online: ie7 Addon: Sage (Firefox)

8. Sage 9. SharpReader 10. Firefox Live Bookmarks

Some Relevant Feeds
• • • • • • • • • (Powells Review a Day) (Science Direct Title Alerts) (Irish Times),,15,00.xml (The Observer) (Times Literary Supplement) (Library Feeds) (Catalog a blog- all about cataloguing) (Digitization feed) The Geek Librarian

Want more help?
RSS For Non-Techie Librarians:

Amigos Website RSS Feeds: what, why & how:

So what are you waiting for? Now that you know what RSS feeds are . . . it’s time to start using them!

How blogs and RSS are linked
• Use the weblog RSS feed on the site home page as a news feed • Encourage people to add the feed to their start page or RSS reader • Create a different weblog for a different subject area – invite other authors • Use it in a different way, on a different page

From RSS to aggregator

A typical RSS feed in XML…The Aggregator translates this

From RSS to aggregator
Viewer-friendly display of the RSS feed

How are Weblog pages made?
• Entering a Blog “post” via the form saves it in a standardised format, usually as an RSS file. • Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is a lightweight XML format designed for sharing headlines and other Web content. Think of it as a distributable "What's New" for your site.

• Show a weblog and then also show it’s RSS feed on a website and/or in a reader

RSS as a means of communicating
• Email is burdened with:
– SPAM - messages are often deleted or are filtered because of cluttered mailboxes – Viruses – more and more legitimate messages are not reaching their destination due to the proliferation of viruses.

Benefits to RSS:
– – Opt-In – users elect which feeds which they subscribe to. Syndication – RSS is a defined standard for syndicating content, feeds extend reach – Content – steady stream of fresh web content – Aggregation – users can quickly scan multiple content streams and click on items of interest saving time – Traffic – increased exposure and traffic for web sites

News aggregators
• Single place to “collect” and read RSS feeds E-Mail “without the spam”

More about RSS
• An RSS file (or “RSS feed”) is a text file that doesn’t have any information about colours, fonts, layout, or any other graphical issues. It’s simply text in a standardised (XML) format. • If you look at the RSS file for Phil Gyford's site, you can see what they look like.

What is RSS for?
• There are two main uses for an RSS file. First, it makes it easy for one website to include a list of headlines from another, a process known as “syndication.” For example, someone might want to include a list of the BBC’s top news items on their website, with each headline linking to the story at the BBC. • The second use for an RSS file is so people

What problem does RSS solve?
• Avoid repeatedly checking websites to see if there is any new content: Content is delivered to you • Avoid clutter and spam in your inbox • Handle notifications of changes to multiple websites easily, while the results are presented to you in a well organized manner

How does RSS work?
• The website author maintains a list of notifications on their website in a standard way. This list of notifications is called an "RSS Feed". • Special computer programs called "RSS Aggregators" automatically access the RSS feeds of websites you care about on your behalf and organize the results for you. • Hundreds of thousands of websites now provide this feature, including major news organizations like the New York Times, the

Using an RSS News Reader
• You tell it the addresses of RSS files you are interested in and it downloads them. The program then displays the entry headlines, regularly fetching the latest version of the RSS file. • People use RSS news readers if they like to read lots of weblogs or news sites because it makes the process much quicker:
– – – – the person no longer has to visit each site in turn the latest entries are fetched automatically the lack of graphics makes the process much quicker. It’s more like skipping through email messages rather than viewing websites.

RSS and search

How do I find blogs
• • • • Bloglines Bl.ogs Blog Search Engine University of Saskatchewan - finding blogs/rss page

Finding Blogs, Managing Content
Through Search Engines
» Google ( » Yahoo (Directory>Computers and Internet>Internet>World Wide Web>Weblogs)

Specialized Directories
» Technorati ( » Bloglines (

How do I find feeds?

How does RSS work?
• The author creates an RSS file. • Users subscribe to the file via an aggregator. • When the author updates the RSS file, the user is automatically notified of the new items and may read them on their schedule.

Are there different versions of RSS?
• Yes. In fact, there are currently nine different versions: RSS 0.90, 0.91, 0.92, 0.93, 0.94, 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 & Atom Feeds • Each has different features from the author’s point of view. • Today’s aggregators support all of the versions transparently.

What does RSS look like?
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?> <rss version="2.0"> <channel> <title>BCR: The Third Indicator</title> <link></link> <description>The Third Indicator, published monthly, is a technical memo focusing on OCLC products and services. It includes general OCLC news as well as detailed technical information on cataloging, reference and resource sharing. Announcements of new OCLC developments are also included.</description> <lastBuildDate>Tue, 21 Sep 2004 21:37:39 GMT</lastBuildDate> <generator>ListGarden Program 1.01</generator> <docs></docs> <item> <title>WorldCat Resource Sharing Training</title> <link> l</link> <description>If you'd like to see what WorldCat Resource Sharing looks like and learn more about it, visit the OCLC Web site at or view the WorldCat Resource Sharing tutorial at .</description> <pubDate>Tue, 21 Sep 2004 19:29:47 GMT</pubDate> <guid isPermaLink="false">thirdind-2004-08-21-19-29-47</guid> </item> </channel> </rss>

What is an aggregator?
• “A news aggregator is a software or a remotely hosted service that periodically reads a set of news sources, in one of several XML-based formats, finds the new bits, and displays them in reversechronological order on a single page.” — Wikipedia • It’s what you need to read RSS feeds.

What are the different types of aggregators?
• Standalone Clients
– FeedReader, Radio UserLand

• PIM add-ins
– Pluck, NewsGator, intraVnews

• Browser add-ins
– Firefox 1.0PR, Sage

• Web-based
– Bloglines, NewsIsFree

• A list is available @

How do I create a feed?
• Fully-automated • You put the content in your blog and software generates a feed based on that content.

So, what else can I do with RSS?
• • • • • Add to content to webpages Add content to a news aggregator Add content to a start page Keep current with comments and updates In conclusion therefore… RSS brings data to you, and allows you to send it out to other places.

How do I find out if a website has a feed I can subscribe to?
• Look for an orange icon:

• Depending on your aggregator, the subscription procedure may range from copying and pasting the link to rightclicking and selecting “subscribe”.

Notable library blogs & feeds
• • Librarian’s Rant • LISNews • The Shifted Librarian www.theshiftedlibraria • Travelin’ Librarian travelinlibrarian.blogsp • Unshelved m • Free Range Librarian • Crime in the Library crimeinthelibrary.blogs • Tame the Web /ttwblog • LibraryTechtonics www.librarytechtonics.i nfo

Examples of RSS feeds
• Newspapers, Magazines, and Television
– – – – – – AP Milwakee Journal Sentinial Badger Herald Cell Press ABC News Financial Times

– Us Copyright Office – Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau –

– Ebay, Fedex , Amazon – Edgar Index – Realators

• •

– UW Ebling library – Minneapolis Public Library

• •

Sports Education
– UWSP Extension Courses – UW Madison Computer Help Desk

– University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Athlet – ESPN

Job searching
– – Feedster

Using news aggregators
• • • • • • Such as Bloglines or the Google Reader Keep up to date Up to the minute Create your own searches Use these to create your own news feeds Combine these and publish them for users

To summarize…
• Blogs/feeds = content • RSS = technology • Aggregators = reader

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