07 RSS Intro exercises


What we're going to do first is get you signed up for on Web-based RSS feed reader. The one we're going to use to start with is Bloglines. Most students last year used this feed reader all semester and we're satisfied with it; a few others used Google Blog Reader for various reasons. (“Resistance is futile.”) This doesn't have to be the one that you'll use forever because you can export your feeds out of it and then import them into another feed reader later. So we just need to give you a place to store them while you go through this exercise. You may (or may not) want to change RSS feed readers later. We'll see how to do that in this exercise.

Next, we'll try out multiple different ways of finding RSS feeds that are related to one topic. If you don't know one yourself, you should try out [sustainable business], [sustainable enterprise], and [sustainable development]. Pretend that you're interested in this topic; pretend that you want to keep up with this topic for a period of time and you want to find 10-20 useful RSS feeds that you are going to monitor for the next month or two in order to get up to speed on the topic. If you have already chosen your term project topic, then you should definitely use that topic during this exercise.

BTW, as you work through this tutorial, you are absolutely required to add to it if you feel it can be improved, changing it so that it would be more useful for others in this class and future classes. Thanks!

  1. Sign up for account with Bloglines.
    • If you are completing this assignment on your own computer, then you should definitely go to the page that allows you to add a bookmarklet to your browser toolbar. This makes subscribing to feeds much easier. You will use this tool over and over for the rest of this semester — and beyond (really!).
    • If you aren't working on your own computer right now, you can always go back and do this later.
  2. Now you're going to use some features of Bloglines to find some feeds and then subscribe to them. You should use bloglines for this step whether or not you are using it as your feed reader.
  3. Run a search for a term (or set of terms) on Bloglines. This finds RSS articles that match your query.
    • Under Matching feeds (to the right) you can find feeds (not individual articles, but whole feeds) that match your query.
    • Under each article, notice that you can preview the feed and subscribe to the feed.
    • You can sort the result articles by relevance, date, or popularity.
    • You can subscribe to the search itself.
  4. Look again at the search box in Bloglines. Next to it is a drop down box that allows you to search for posts, feeds, citations, the Web, or a specific URL. Try out each one of these. When would you use these different choices?
  5. Now you're going to move on to other searchable feed databases. Try out searches in each one of the following. Explore the results that the tool gives you. Subscribe to the feeds (that is, into your bloglines account) that you find interesting and/or useful. If you find some that are outside of the scope of the class, that's okay, too. What types of useful information does it give you that helps you find useful information?
    • Google Blog Search
      • Investigate Related blogs", Sorted by relevance'' vs “Sorted by date”
      • At the bottom of the page are three items:
        • Email alert — we'll talk about this in an upcoming class. Don't do anything with this for now.
        • Blog search gadget — Useful if you find a really good query that you want to monitor very carefully; otherwise, skip this — you can get the same effect with an RSS feed
        • Blog search feed for Google Reader — if you end up using Google Blog Reader, then this would be helpful. If you're using Bloglines, you can simply click on the Sub/bloglines button in your toolbar and get the same effect.
    • Technorati
      • Search for posts. Under “Posts” near the top of the page is the phrase (or something like it “Search in tags only of blogs with some authority in English”). These are the options that are set for the search. Click on the “change” button next to it and explore what options are available.
      • Now search for blogs. Your query might have to change because now you're searches are more like a web directory search than a full-text search.
      • Check out Technorati's blog directory.
    • Blogpulse
      • Search for [google android]
      • Then click on the “trend this” icon and see how this topic exploded recently.
    • Blogs.com
      • Search for [google android apple iphone]. How are these results sorted? (I have no idea.)
      • For fun (and possibly some useful information), check out their lists of ``Top 10 Blogs''.
    • IceRocket
      • Search for [barack obama]
      • Then click on “Results Trend” on the left side of the screen.
  6. One possible blog topic that you might write about is the following: Pick at least three of the most interesting tools. You'll describe how to use the tool (go into more detail if there's anything tricky about it — don't feel the need to explain the obvious), what type of information is returned, and why you found this to be interesting or useful. Also, would you prefer any of these tools to the exclusion of the others; if so, under what circumstances?
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