Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Commentary: Sotir: "Using RSS and ATOM"

I've been playing with some of the aggregators that I've found, and like some more than others. This is very new technology, but I a amazed by the volume of RSS and ATOM syndications that are available, along with the tools that are developed to view them. Web aggregators, or 'portals' are being offered in a lot of places. As an example, Yahoo has an easy portal for getting relevant information to you on your 'My Yahoo!' page. All you need is the URL of the syndicated Blog or Web site that you want to use. I went to the 'Add Content' area of the My Page site on Yahoo. Under 'Find Content' I chose Add RSS by URL and typed in the RSS feed for this Blog. That immediately added the 'Technology for the Adult Education Instructor' Blog to my Yahoo homepage. It also tells you how long ago content was added, and a simple click takes me to this Blog.

It was an easy check to determine how the portal process works, and frankly, it works well. You can also add specific content areas rather than sites (such as 'Cubs Baseball') and have all RSS feed sites that cover Cubs baseball sent to you. If you're not a current Yahoo user, you can access their site and set up your own My Yahoo! page. Go to for more information. Setting a page and getting a Yahoo email address is free.

I have been asked why the AELC Blog does not have a syndication feed. The reason is that the AELC Blog is meant for internal communication, and I don't see the need to open it to anyone else. The Instructor's Blog is open to other colleges and programs, and so the feed makes sense here.

RSS/ATOM is a great new tool. What I like is that adding content areas or URL's to these aggregators is extremely easy. A couple of clicks and you are there. What I didn't like was when I accessed Feedster (which is more of an RSS search engine), and typed in 'Adult Education', some 'interesting' sites popped up. While it listed academic sites, there were also some less than academic 'adult' sites in the mix. Tip: choose your keywords wisely. This is a fairly new process for me as well, so I'll keep you informed about what I find.