So What Is RSS Anyway?

Several folks have been posting today about simplifying the RSS jargon. I agree that simplifying the names for the technology might make things a little easier. I am teaching a class on RSS for a second time, and this discussion of nomenclature reminds me that I need to check all of my handouts and workshop materials. I imagine there are places where the alphabet soup of RSS is not very consistent.

I’m teaching this class again because I believe that if we really want our users to get on board with the idea of RSS, we really must reach out and try to teach them how it works. LibrarianInBlack writes:

….educate your users, but even before that, start with your staff. If the frontline staff don’t know what it is and how to use it, then it’s not going much of anywhere (beyond the pretty visions of dancing RSS feeds in your head).

I taught a class on RSS a few months ago. While it was open to the entire university community, all twelve attendees were staff members. I walked them through how to find appropriate feeds, and also showed them how to use three different aggregators. After the workshop, several thanked me and thought the class was interesting. From what I gathered, though, they were not necessarily sold on the idea. Many folks are still tied to bookmarks and email lists.

In teaching the class, I hoped to get people excited about subscribing to our feeds. Whether it be the News Blog, the Business Blog, or the Reference Blog, I had hoped that the class would spark some interest in syndicating our library sites. Unfortunately, I actually may have shot myself in the foot regarding this issue. A while back I found a script that would send out email notifications when a post is published on our Reference Blog. Because folks now get an email of the post, they have no need for RSS. I have been asked several times to set the same script up for our News Blog, which has a much larger readership. There are several issues to deal with there, but for the time being I have been able to put this off.

Hopefully, my next class on RSS will be a little better. Time will only tell, but perhaps I can refine my sales pitch to win a few people over.

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