RSS Romance

So this week was another below average hours study week for my university course, and I did just over 10 hours. However, this week was an introduction week to HTML, CSS, and RSS. HTML and CSS I’ve done before, via Codecademy (a site with free programming courses), so although the introductory theory was new to me in places, using it was not, and marking up text was not a new and scary undertaking.

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It was the RSS section that came as a bit of a revelation. Now, I have dabbled in RSS before; MANY years ago. I forget the program I used for it, but I have a feeling it’s now defunct. For those who don’t know, many online news sources provide RSS feeds of their articles. They tend to be found via the orange wi-fi-like symbol above. Whenever a news article is added, the RSS feed gets updated through the use of XML (a kind of organisation-specific html). Then, using a News Reader, you can gather theses different feeds together in one place, sort them into different topics, and use them to keep track of recent news and articles. Back when I was using RSS feeds for the first time, not many outlets used them. it took a lot of Googling to find relevant RSS feeds, and in the end, I gave up using them. These days, most respected outlets provide RSS feeds, or so I found out via this weeks study, and with that revelation, I’ve fallen back in love with RSS feeds.

For part of the in-module assessment, I had to use a News Reader, and add the BBC’s technology RSS feed to it. I went with Feedly, as this seems to be the top Reader out there. It was a short and simple task, but raised the question: What other RSS feeds are there out there, and would they be useful to me? Turns out, it’s a lot, and yes.

So why are RSS feeds important to me? As someone who maintains several social media sites for herself (both for her marine biologist persona, and her sci-fi novelist persona) as well as one for the marine charity MARINElife, and sources articles for the Aquarium Welfare Association, being able to hunt for suitable news stories effectively is important. Up to now, I’d basically been using Google’s personalised news sections, and searching which articles had been added within the past 24 hours. This, of course, was a bit limited, as well as laborious. Now, using Feedly, I can grab the RSS feeds from appropriate sites, including several scientific journal sites, and quickly run my eye over them for any new posts. I can even add my personalised news sections from Google. Once done, I can mark the articles off as read, and they won’t show up again in my feed. A total time saver!

This, along with the prevalence of RSS feeds from sites, makes for many more post options. Some sites break their feeds down into topics. Some sites even allow you to create an advanced search, and then save the results as an RSS feed. Both of which making for a more relevant feed in News Reader. I spent a fun few days scouring websites for their feeds, and plugging them into Feedly….

So now I have a new quiver in my bow with regards to social media strategy and content curation. See, the Open University teaches you stuff.

This week I do my first proper assessment; a dreaded TMA. Fingers crossed that I get a good mark.

I put a call in about my OU pencil case. It hasn’t even been sent yet *frowny face*.

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