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October 24, 2011

Thing 3: Subscribe to the RSS feed of the 23 Things blog

A subscription to this blog will help make it easier for you to follow all the Things and instructions on how to do them. By subscribing, you will get to see when the latest 23 Things instructions are published. Once you have subscribed to this feed remember to write about the process on your blog.

The basics
Look for the orange RSS button on the left of this blog page. If you just click on it, you may find that you are taken through the steps to subscribe to it via an RSS feed reader which is related to the internet browser software that you are using. Or you might see a basic looking web page. Or a page full of code! What you see will depend on your Internet browser.

You will know if a webpage or blog has an RSS feed as you will see a button (usually orange) similar to this: RSS button 

You need to choose an RSS feed reader for yourself. There are a variety of RSS feed readers available to you, but the ones I have used are:

  • iGoogle – not strictly an RSS feed reader but it can work a bit like one.
  • Google Reader
  • Bloglines Reader


…and I can recommend any of them to you as useful and powerful tools. The simplest one, which I recommend that you do for the purposes of this “Thing”, is to use iGoogle. Even if you already have an RSS feed reader, iGoogle can be handy to use alongside one.

You can read more on RSS feed basics on the whatisrss website. And about using RSS feeds in a research context on the Research Exchange website.

What is iGoogle?

Using iGoogle you can create a start page (or pages!) for yourself, incorporating information from a number of other websites and handy tools onto one page (or set of pages). A start page can save you time because you won’t need to visit so many separate websites so often.

For ideas on how to use iGoogle, this iGoogle tutorial is very good.

Although iGoogle looks a tiny bit different these days, the tutorial shows you the things that you can do with it.
To subscribe to the 23 Things blog using iGoogle follow these Step by Step instructions.

What about an RSS feed reader?
It can make your iGoogle start page a bit cluttered if you put every news feed onto it as a gadget. You could opt to create a Google Reader account instead – or as well as an iGoogle page. Google Reader can put a gadget onto your iGoogle start page, too!

This is a useful video on the basics of Google Reader. And there are detailed instructions on the Google website.

Note that you can manage your subscriptions on Google Reader. This will help you to delete unwanted subscriptions, and to group those you read most often or those on a particular theme together. Also note the “Mark all as read” button for each feed, which you can select even when you have chosen not to read stuff. Then next time you will be notified of content that is new since you marked it as read.

The Warwick option
Warwick University has its own start page, start.warwick. If you sign in with your Warwick username and password, you will find it already populated with some different tabs of boxes that you might find handy. The first tab has videos of useful stuff you can explore. If you use Files.warwick or the EAT card, you may find this start page a useful place to visit, or even use as your home page.

Another option
MyYahoo! works in a similar way to iGoogle.

Further information
To see technical stuff, have a look at the "good old" Wikipedia article on RSS
To browse RSS feeds and explore further, you might find the RSS Compendium helpful.


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