I went to an excellent ALIA session a couple of years ago run by Kate Sinclair from Flinders University library which introduced people to RSS feeds and since then I’ve been hooked! They really are the most convenient way to keep up with updates. We were shown aggregators by Bloglines and Google, and I plumped for Google, simply because I also use gmail. Bloglines may be far better. Oh well….
Having used readers for a while I thought that I’d share a few tips:
1. Get a lot of feeds early on. It’s good practice and it soon becomes second nature.
2. Treat your feeds like roses. Enjoy them but prune them when you need to. Eventually you’ll get feeds that you simply mark as read without reading anything. It’s probably a sign that you should unsubscribe from it.
3. Think about whether you want one or two separate aggregators. I have all of my work and personal feeds organised in a single aggregator but it may be easier to have them separated. It may be easier to avoid the temptation to read your personal feeds at work (and vice versa). Which I can do. Except my comics…. 🙂
4. Use an on-line aggregator. Don’t use a desktop aggregator. The advantages of the on-line aggregator (read them anywhere, using any computer) far outweigh any advantages of the desktop (which I think are simply that you can read posts if you don’t have on-line access).
5. Organise your feeds. I have my feeds organised by: boardgaming, web-comics, news, sport (cricket and rugby), Info literacy, librarianship, Web and libraries 2.0. One or two don’t fit into any category, but that’s OK. It makes it easy to read either individual subscriptions or an entire related category all at once.
6. Play with all the tools that your aggregator of choice give you, but do so with a view to finding out what works for you. I use the Trends tool to see what I’m reading most and least of to help me decide what to prune. I e-mail interesting posts to friends (Google Reader gives you an e-mail icon which makes it quite easy). GR also gives you options to share feeds with friends who also have GR, which I’ve not found useful.
7. If indoubt – subscribe. You can always unsubscribe later.
But what if the page you want doesn’t give you an option to subscribe to RSS feeds? Try page2rss. Page2RSS lets you set up a feed subscription for pages that don’t have any. The feeds may not be particularly pretty to look at, but they will at least tell you that the page has been updated.