Monday, November 10, 2008

[TIPS] Weaning off the listserv

Do you receive these tips via email? What are you planning to do once that is no longer an option? You’ve got two choices. One, you can just plan to go visit my blog (tipline.blogspot.com) every day to see if I’ve added anything. Or, you can set up an aggregator (Don’t panic!) to collect my new posts for you. It’s my hope that you’ll choose the latter, so this tip is the first in a series about HOW you do that.

Today, some definitions.
Feed (or RSS feed) ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSS_feed) - it’s a type of web page format that provides for the ability to send updates when the content on the page changes. Blogs are examples of the kinds of web pages that have feeds, as the content on blogs changes frequently. A static page about a particular topic, say a History site) likely will not have a feed, since their content doesn’t change much.

RSS – Really Simple Syndication. Another name for the formatting of those pages. There are html pages (the kind we’re most familiar with), and xml pages (extensible markup language) that make feeds possible. Fortunately, we don’t need to know this. It’s the web designers and programmers who need to know that part. But, you’ll hear folks ask if a page, “..has an rss feed?”

Aggregator – an application, either desktop or web based, that collects feeds from the web. Examples are bloglines.com, netvibes.com, pageflakes,com, and the Google Reader. This allows us to collect the feeds (content) from many websites all in one spot.

Subscribe – to collect the feed (in your aggregator) from a site so that you’ll know when new content has been published there. (You will subscribe to my blog, for example.)

So, in this series of tips I’ll have you do a few things. I’ll have you create an account at one of the aggregators. I’ll show you how to subscribe to my blog and one or two others. Finally, I’ll point you to some others that you may want to subscribe to. At that point you’ll be ready to be on your own when the mailinglist disappears.

Ready? Tune in tomorrow for part II.

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