RSS and aggregators

Here is another application that really makes life easier. I am suspicious though — all this good stuff for free…? I’m suspicious about whom they sell all the information about me. I do not want to be monitored. Maybe I sound paranoid in the U.S. but I said it before and I’m saying it again: I’m uneasy about all the information that can be collected about individuals nowadays.

with that said, I’m actually Using RSS because it us a very useful application. I recently signed up for Google Reader and I like it.  It is simple to create a Google account. One can sign up for a gmail account (which is a great email program by the way) and the Reader is available with a gmail  account.

the Reader is available at

RSS refers to Really Simple Syndication, and it is a web-based tool that allows one to have various content (news, etc) delivered to one’s reader. Another word for this is aggregator. A tool that collects relevant information for the individual reader and is customized according to individual needs and interests. The advantage is that the user gets the content of the desired site automatically delivered (multiple sites could be added) without individually visiting each site.  It is a convenient tool, and supposedly the individuals using the service remain anonymous, but who believes that? I’m sure that companies delivering these free services collect more data than they claim. It is probably used for marketing purposes, not political ones. Joseph McCarthy would have loved to put his hand on a tool like this.

Oh, well. Back to the application. The Reader can be customized and it offers the potential to be a very collaborative tool. if one creates a Google profile, than one can share news, articles, whatever content is important to the person with friends and “followers”.  This could be a fun thing for people who are engaged in politics or other community activity and wish to be more collaborative with other people. Information could be shard with anyone or only a select group of people. In that sense, the site allows for customization and it is relatively easy to use. There is a side menu which is well-laid and easy to use. descriptions are clear and easy to follow.

Searching  for and adding subscriptions is relatively easy. The menu options on the left side are clearly labeled and they are straightforward. one does not need to know any specialized language to use the site.

I was disappointed to see that there was no easy way to share  some of that content on my blog, but I could provide the website if I really had to. I could share my recommended materials with other people who have a Google profile, but i found no easy way to link it to my blog.

for example, I subscribe to the European Journal of Open, Distance and E-learning. There was an interesting article about pedagogy in the digital age that I would have liked to share on my blog, but there was no easy way to send it there. To the site’s credit, it is easy to email articles to friends and acquaintances, so that is an option. Of course, I could always post a link to the article, since I have access to all that via the reader feed.

to sum it up, RSS is a great tool for people who want to follow the content of certain sites without constantly going to the site to get the information. Then there is the data part. One can track what was read and what trends emerge in the Reader.

The Note to Reader feature allows for very easy content sharing and one can add notes to it to make it easy to understand or remember why that particular content is interesting.   The sharing and interactive features of this reader make it a web 2.0 tool. this is more than just getting content delivered and  read. This is all`about reading and sharing with others at the same time. Handy tool for people who like to share their reading materials.

Handy tool for teachers as well: sharing content with customized comments and remarks can be a great way to share additional readings (that pertain to the topics discussed in class) with the students.

Then there are the bundles that we read about on the course website. I personally do not use it yet, but I can see its usefulness. One can create bundles or follow other people’s bundles. All in all, Google reader is a great tool, and it is becoming a necessary tool for most readers nowadays;  either this tool or something like this.

It is good to know that not only we have a flood of information available on the web, but tools as well to help us organize and manage the massive information available to us.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Hi Judith —
    If you go to Tools, on the dashboard for your blog, you’ll see something called “Press This” — you drag it to your browser toolbar and then, when you find an article rf site you want to link to on your blog, you simply activate the tool, a window opens, and you can create a blog post right off the bat. Its how I add things to the course blog … including a link to this very thoughtful post on RSS.

    The issue of privacy in this internet age is very important, but many people don’t seem to care. I have often thought that there is such a flood of data that its almost impossible to monitor. Then, i watch a tv crime show and once they have somebody’s basic info, its amazing how they can track their daily lives through receipts, cell phone records, web usage, emails, etc. … oh, and security cams and traffic cams. I still haven’t decided if I’m paranoid about this yet or not.

    As Thomas Pynchon wrote — “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t really out to get you.” (Gravity’s Rainbow)


  2. Posted by sumner on April 9, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Hi Judith,
    You bring up an interesting and very valid point. “All this good stuff for free?” Dot Com hasn’t hatched all these young millionaires due to their lack of marketing skills. In this world we are the commodity being traded. I think your concerns are very real and I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this.


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