Saturday, September 02, 2006

Learning 2.0: RSS

This week’s learning challenge is to explore and use newsreaders. I have used Bloglines and Blogroll, and I am still learning how to optimize both of them, so I am happy for the chance to work on this aspect of blogging.

I am really glad to see the Learning 2.0 public Bloglines list so I can keep up with all the other participants. With over 240 blogs participating, it is just about impossible for me to add them all to my daily/weekly reading. Being able to skim and scan on blogroll is wonderful. Every once in a while I find a great new blog like this or this, and then I am ROFLOL, learning new stuff, amazed and hooked on reading every word. I don’t know why some people think reading blogs is not like being with real people… the writers of blogs are about as real as you can get, and then some.

I have had a Bloglines account since about last May, when I learned about it from other bloggers. If you really get hooked on reading blogs it can start to take over your life. I sometimes spend hours surfing and reading and thinking and commenting. Sometimes I force myself to quit when the baby is asleep and Buddy is watching PBS, just so I can take a shower. Then in the shower I think of something I should have said and I have to quickly get back online and join another conversation.

Having a Bloglines account saves a lot of time because you can see in a glance which bloggers have updated since your last reading. I sort my list into categories so I can choose to read adoption blogs, library blogs, mom blogs, academic blogs, knitting blogs, etc. Then I can pace myself and budget my time.

I have the subscribe button on my menu bar, so to add a new subscription for a blog I have just found and like all I have to do is click and chose a folder. You can get the quick subscribe button by following the link at the bottom of your My Feed’s list in the left pane. Easy sneezy! If I later find that the blog isn’t as interesting as I thought, it is easy to remove by using the editing buttons along the top of the summary page that opens when you click the blog in your list.

I also have a Blogroll account. I use my Blogroll to power my links list that appears on my blog page. I opened it to compare with Bloglines, and because some of my favorite bloggers use it. When I added links one at a time by putting the URL into my blog template it took a lot longer and I tried to keep them in alphabetical order. I learned a lot about HTML doing it that way, but since I have dyslexia it was a real chore. I am much happier using a feed reader to do it automatically. I have a button to add blogs to my Blogroll on my browser menu bar too. Usually I keep new blogs on Bloglines for a while before I decide to add them to Blogroll, because Blogroll is my public list of blogs I want to share with my readers. I like to test drive them for a few weeks or months first. Yesterday I added two new photography blogs right off the bat because I loved the photos and writing so much.

It is also possible to sort Blogroll into categories, but I didn’t do that because I don’t want to have to figure out what category to put people in. If the blogger is an academic, writing, adoptive mom who is also a librarian, a first mom, an adoptee and a knitter, where would I put her? And what if I only had one poet in the list, does he need a separate category? I’d rather let my blog visitors explore serendipitously, figuring out who they are meeting on their own terms; so no categories in the public list!

I was glad to see you can set Blogroll up so that new posts within the last 24 hours are indicated with any character you choose (I use a *). The list is sorted with most recent updates at the top, so it is easy to see what you need to read. One big problem with using Blogroll: I see that only the Blogger blogs show updating. If the blog is from typepad, wordpress, or something else it doesn’t show updating. Very frustrating! Does anyone know how this works and how I can get Blogger to show recent updating of all the blogs in the list? This is annoying enough to me that I hardly ever read blogs from the Blogroll. I am afraid I am missing out on some great posts because of this, so I always start with my Bloglines list. I am sure there must be a trick I am missing. Any suggestions?



Mary Lee said...

Thanks for sharing all you're learning in your class! I'm starting to feel LESS like I'm stumbling around blindly in the blogosphere, but there's still so much to learn and try! And now that school's started, no more leisurely mornings spent blogging...sigh...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link. I'm trying to have as much fun with Learning 2.0 as possible. The puppets are enjoying it as well.

Anonymous said...

It is addictive. That is why I am up reading "my blogs" when I should be in bed!

Third Mom said...

I originally used Blogroll but didn't realize it had the update function - that's very cool. I moved my blogroll to a separate post because I was running out of sidebar space - I wonder if you can blogroll to a post. That would be awesome, because the manual method definitely takes time.

Thanks for the great tips!