Until recently, the world of RSS feeds has been a mystery to me. I had vague visions of pasting lines of code into some kind of web pages that I was supposed to be creating, somewhere. But why would I want to? It all seemed rather ‘Web Services’.
But my innocence couldn’t last forever. I was lured into the world of Google Gadgets looking for cool stuff to add to my personal blog. This lead me to try iGoogle, basically a customised Google page you can get if you have a free Google account. Like a Neanderthal stumbling into a shopping mall, I began to see what this interweb thing is all about… One of the toys you can put on your Google page is a Google Reader, a box into which appear, as if by magic, links to the latest posts from blogs and news pages that you choose from the vast universe of thigs with RSS feeds. But it didn’t stop there – in a similar way I now get constantly updated search results (eg new blog entries from anyone that mention Edge Hill, ditto YouTube videos…) directly into little boxes, and all sorts of other crazy things. So now my Google page is actually six tabbed pages, with news arriving by the minute from a variety of sources, ranging from the broadsheet education sections to an H.P.Lovecraft discussion group. (I’m having interesting dreams.)
I’m sure most people reading this are abundantly familiar with such things and view me as one might an elderly person in a cinema who exclaims with amazement when the film turns out to be a ‘talkie’. But it’s been a minor revelation to me – now I can see (literally) how people ‘out there’ are pulling content they like into their own domain. So one aim for us is to create content that is ‘feedworthy’.