Wednesday, 29 August 2012

RSS vs Email....who wins the war?

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by gdesigneralex

Ok…I must admit that I am a bit old school.  Before I discovered the wonderful world called Twitter and developed my own personal learning network (PLN) I used to do a lot of trolling for good blog posts.  I had my favourites bookmarked at the top of my internet browser and would regularly check in with them and read what interesting things they had to say.  Bloggers such as Shane Roberts, Chris Betcher, Rod Lucier and Jarrod Robinson were amongst my early favourites.  These guys were doing some pioneering work and remember reading blog posts that they would create and just being in awe of what they did in their classrooms. 

I was finding it really hard to stay on top of content that my favourite bloggers were creating and one day I discovered the wonderful world of Rich Site Summary or what is commonly known as RSS.  RSS is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format. An RSS document (which is called a "feed", "web feed",[3] or "channel") includes full or summarized text, plus metadata such as publishing dates and authorship. RSS feeds benefit publishers by letting them syndicate content automatically. A standardized XML file format allows the information to be published once and viewed by many different programs. They benefit readers who want to subscribe to timely updates from favourite websites or to aggregate feeds from many sites into one place.  Here is a video explaining the basic concepts of RSS.

I was excited.  As my bloggers were pushing stuff out, I was visiting my RSS feed and seeing the content that they were creating.  It was a beautiful time and I was adding more and more subscriptions to my RSS reader.  Then I hit a wall: I had subscribed to too much content and I was drowning in information.  I felt as though I was missing out on important stuff and not keeping up with the work that my favourite bloggers were doing in their everyday lives.  I was finding it hard to find the time each day to check my RSS feed and every day the pool of information was getting deeper and deeper. 

I then had a thought – I interact with my email on a regular basis (eg more than once a day) and could subscribe to these blogs via email.  One of my favourite blogs that I subscribe to is Free Technology For Teachers by Richard Bryne.  Everyday an email of blog posts comes into the folder that I have created for his blog and I check it at my leisure.  The email posts a quick summary at the top of the page about the blog posts and I quickly scan them and see if they have any relevance to me.  If they spark my interest, I simply ‘click on the link’ and read the post.  If it is something that I know that I could possibly use in the future, I bookmark it to my Diigo account with the appropriate tag (watch out for more blog posts featuring content from my Diigo account) and now that content is safe and secure for ever!

So in summary, RSS was a massive failure for me.  I was drowning and getting stressed.  Content delivered to me in the ‘old school’ manner work much better and I can get a handle on it easier.  I would love to know about your favourite bloggers, simply for selfish reasons so that I can learn from them.

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