SHEEN Sharing

A Project of the Scottish Employability Co-ordinators' Network

Tips & Tricks: Getting Updates Easily Using Feeds

Introduction to Newsfeedsfeed-icon-28x28
As we noted in the Project Development Group kick-off meeting at the end of January, newsfeeds (e.g. RSS Feeds, Atom Feeds, Podcast Feeds) are the lynchpin to using social media on the Web. Regardless of which Web2.0 tools others in your network or community use, if you can get feeds you can be informed of their news, new resources and relevant discussions as easily as checking your email inbox. Likewise, regardless of what Web2.0 tools YOU choose to use, you can be confident that others will be updated on the new resources or ideas you want to share, because your own tools will allow them to receive feeds.

Choosing a Feed Reader
There are many feed tools out there for you to choose from. Some allow you to log into a website to check your feeds, some sit on your desktop and pull feeds down off the web. It’s similar to the two main ways you might get email: you may log onto the Hotmail or Gmail service on the web, for instance, to read your emails, or you may have Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird or similar on your own computer, pulling your emails in for you. It doesn’t matter which reader you use; you can experiment.

The two tools we looked at in the project kick-off meeting were Google Reader on the web, and Mozilla Thunderbird on the desktop, mainly because these are the two tools I currently use, so I was able to show the Development Group a bunch of existing newsfeeds and how they work, how I organise them, where they come from, and so on.

Getting Started With Feeds
To get started, if you haven’t already, go to http://www.google.co.uk/reader/ and sign up to get a Google account- if you already have one you can just use that.  Or, feel free to experiment with some other free tool.

Alternatively, have a look in your email client’s help section to see how to set up feeds in the same tool as your email. For instance, in Thunderbird, go to Tools > Account Settings > News & Blogs > Manage Subscriptions > Add. You will be given a box to enter a new Feed URL.

Getting Feeds: The Feed URL
Whatever feed tool you use, the key is the Feed URL. By giving the Feed URL for a site or service to your feed reader, you are ensuring that every time you look in your reader, you will see the latest updates from that site or service.

The best way to start for this project would be to subscribe to the feed for this blog. That way you will be updated every time there is a new posting added to the blog. To do this, look near the bottom of the columns on the right, under Site Admin & Feeds. Click on Entries RSS and you will get the Feed URL. If you have already signed up for Google Reader, clicking this link should immediately open a Google Reader page allowing you to put this feed into your reader. If you are using an email client or other tool, you can copy and past the Feed URL into whatever form or box that tool gives you for subscribing to feeds.

Feeds for Specific Pages, Postings and Comments
You may find you want to monitor comments on this blog, to see if anyone has posted a comment on something you have written, or just to keep up with discussions. Under Site Admin & Feeds you will see a link for Comments RSS – selecting this will give you a comments feed.

You can also get feeds for particular pages or blog postings on this blog. For instance, click on Welcome to the SHEEN Sharing Project to see the welcome page for this blog. If you look up in the browser address box, where the URL for the page is, you will see the RSS Feed icon to the right feed-icon-14x14. Wherever you see this icon on the web, you can click it to get a feed for the resource it is attached to. In this case, clicking it will give you a news feed just for that page; you will be notified of any additions, edits, or comments for the page.

Other Feeds
Do you have websites or discussion forums that you check regularly, as part of your work, to follow the news, or for personal interests? Go have a look and see if they offer a feed. You can add this to your feed reader too, and find out how much time you can save just going to one place to be notified of updates to things you are interested in.

Feeds and Your Daily Routine
Once you have a feed or some feeds of interest to you set up in your reader, you can have your own routine with checking them. It’s similar to email: feeds can be a great source of news, information and help, but they can also take your time away from other tasks if you check them too often, or if you feel obliged to read every single news item that comes in. You’ll have to employ similar feed management strategies as you do with email; in fact, simply checking your feeds each time you go in to check your email might be a good starting point.

Incoming Feeds on this Blog
You may have noticed in the columns to the right, there are some items with the feed icon next to them. These are trial examples of using other sites’ feeds to pull relevant content into this blog for our community to use. At the time of writing, I’ve set up two incoming feeds. One is Project Documents from Scribd and the other is SheenSharing Bookmarks from Delicious. I’ll explain more about these in future postings here, but the general idea is that Cherie and I can use Scribd to post documents such as project plans, presentation slides, etc. on a free site called Scribd; I have set up a feed from Scribd, just for our group’s documents, into our blog page. So if you click on the links there you will be taken to the relevant project document on Scribd, and allowed to read or download it. Each time we add a new document, the feed in the right-hand column is automatically updated. Similarly, we are using Delicious, a free site for sharing bookmarks, to collect links of relevance to the project. We tag them on Delicious with the unique tag “sheensharing”, and we have a feed coming into the blog which lists all items with that tag.

So: this is your sandbox: feel free to play in it, get started with a feed reader and some feeds, and please post comments, questions and feedback here so others can benefit from your experience and offer you theirs.

The next posting from me will be about getting you started in writing your own posts here on the blog!

February 10, 2009 - Posted by | Blogging, Bookmarking, Using Newsfeeds, Web2.0 Tools, Tips and Tricks | , ,

3 Comments »

  1. […] The Wisdom of the (S)ages: Literature/Project Review Bookmarks Hi everyone. Have you set up your newsfeed for this blog yet so you can get updated on news from the project? Go to the Entries RSS link in the column over there —> .. and put the hyperlink URL into your feed reader; then you’ll get an update every time anyone adds a new post to this blog. For more detailed instructions see https://sheensharing.wordpress.com/2009/02/10/tips-tricks-getting-updates-easily-using-feeds/ […]

    Pingback by The Wisdom of the (S)ages: Literature/Project Review Bookmarks « SHEEN Sharing | February 23, 2009

  2. […] Easing our communications, sharing info, supporting each other: in praise of Twitter What is Twitter? Twitter is known as a “microblogging” tool; think Facebook status updates without the rest of Facebook around them. Or tiny emails only from and to people you choose to be part of your own personal community. Or miniature blog posts appearing in your feed reader. […]

    Pingback by Easing our communications, sharing info, supporting each other: in praise of Twitter « SHEEN Sharing | April 23, 2009

  3. […] does this without us having to build a website; it pulls in stuff from anywhere on the Web using newsfeeds and widgets, and presents them in any structure you like. It can also have a public face (for stuff […]

    Pingback by Next phase under way: a community ECN site plus a lovely resource sharing tool « SHEEN Sharing | May 25, 2009


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