RSS strikes oil!

By roopakroopak (1223484244|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

This post was truly inspired by RSS. It has shown me that everything might be ok. I know this sounds odd, but read on.



To be honest, after BIT 200, I was not very impressed with RSS. We were required to use Google Reader for a period of time as an assignment, so I just clicked on popular feeds like The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and whatever else seemed news-related. I thought of it as a way for me to get the news items for newspapers that I SHOULD read but never actually do. What happened? Well, I never read these feeds on Google Reader either. There were thousands of news items piling up that were about hundreds of topics. I wasn't really interested in any of it but felt obligated to get a feed for something that sounded intellectual for the class.

The main reason I initially decided to take BIT330 was so that I can easily get large amounts of specific information about companies when interviewing time comes around. I found the classes on Search Techniques and Web Directories somewhat interesting and saw myself using the information in the future, but they didn't give me exactly what I took the class for. I thought the classes on RSS would potentially give me this, but was apprehensive after considering the thousands of unfiltered news items that were in my Google Reader from BIT 200.

The search for oil

Two things separated this experience with RSS from my last one:
* Search techniques
* Subscribing to search results

For my term project, I am giving detailed background and following the news on oil consumption. This does not mean watching oil prices! This means monitoring how consumption is affected and keeping up-to-date with plans to remedy the oil shortage.

I started out as indicated in the RSS Lab Exercises by searching in Bloglines. I naively submitted the query: oil consumption. Go figure, 83,300 posts! Even of the first five, not too many looked very useful. This was more than mildly discouraging. I thought about it for a second and then went with: intitle:'oil consumption'. This came out a bit better, but I felt like the results were still not relevant enough. Finally, my perfect query hit me: intitle:'oil consumption' -prices. There it was!


Within the descriptions of my first six results, there was:

  • "World Crude Oil Consumption by Geographic Region"
  • "Oil Consumption by state"
  • "reduction in oil consumption will increase the inelasticity of remaining demand…"

My search had given me all kinds of background information on my topic and it seemed as if the results were tailored for me! After looking at the next step in the exercises, I subscribed to this search.

The spoils

I am not a tech-savvy person and BIT 330 has been a bit outside of my comfort level so far. It took me a LONG time to figure out how to navigate all around the Wikidot course website and I am very slowly becoming comfortable with formatting within Wikidot. This experience showed me that the term project, which had previously seemed quite overwhelming, might not be quite so overwhelming. If I can have multiple feeds from various sources with search results tailored to my project, I should easily have enough information to develop a good term project (in theory).


Beyond the project, this experience gave me what I came to this class for. It gave me an easy way to get large amounts of specific information about companies. This is something I know I will use well after I leave this class and may very well help me land a job!

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