Syndication & RSS

This is the first of several entries on the topic of "The medium is not the message."

If you look down at the bottom of the left column of this page, you'll notice a little orange button labeled "XML." You'll be seeing a lot more of these this year. They tell you the Internet Time Blog is syndicated. Let me explain.

Push the orange button and you'll see some gobbeldygook, e.g.,

    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="iso-8859-1" ?> - <rdf:RDF xmlns:rdf="" xmlns:dc="" xmlns:sy="" xmlns:admin="" xmlns=""> <channel rdf:about=""> <title>Internet Time Blog</title> <link></link> <description /> <dc:language>en-us</dc:language> <dc:creator /> <dc:date>2002-12-27T12:34:23-08:00</dc:date> <admin:generatorAgent rdf:resource="" /> - <items> - <rdf:Seq> <rdf:li rdf:resource="> <rdf:li rdf:resource="> <rdf:li rdf:resource="> <rdf:li rdf:resource=">

That's a description of the contents of this page in XML. Suffice it to say that XML enables computers to talk with one another.

What's the point? Anyone on the web can set up a simple, free piece of software to automatically gather up XML feeds from a variety of sites. This is quite a time-saver.

One evening before Christmas -- starting from scratch, mind you -- I downloaded the reader software (called an "aggregator") and asked it to keep track of eLearningPost, eLearnSpace, OLDaily, Learning Circuits blog, JOHO, and a few others. From now on, I can scan one page of the latest headlines (and mini-descriptions) at the push of a button.

Bloggers and news sites crave readers. Syndication spreads the word. And it is easy to provide -- syndication is built in to most blogging software.

Readers get the equivalent of a personal newsstand, tailored to one's current interests. (It's easy to add and delete subscriptions.) When an item catches my eye, I click its link to pull up its source. (Here's the downside of this -- I just got carried away chasing down interesting stuff for 30 minutes. For those of us who are insatiably curious, reading syndicated news is playing with fire.)

Like a good newsstand, my syndication page lets me look over the covers. It's pushed at me but from the titles I chose. Unlike email lists, I drop by this newsstand on my own schedule. It's pull/push/pull.

Syndication will become part and parcel of knowledge management. It's bottom-up. It saves time. It's practical. The technology is nearly free. It spreads knowledge.

Syndication is yet another tool for building learning organizations.

How to set up your own headline reader
Surf to Amphetadesk. Follow the download instructions (i.e., download the file & unzip it). Click on the pill icon. Add or delete from the list of sites. Start reading.

For a technical slant on all this, see Mark Pilgrim's recent article What is RSS?

Coming in April 2002 from O'Reilly

Posted by Jay Cross at December 28, 2002 11:45 PM | TrackBack

What's so great about computers talking to each other? A great deal, because it opens up a wole new world.

Right now computers do not 'understand' anything written on this web page except for the fact that this page consists of a title, hearer,and a few images. XML allows the computer to know more about the page. The computer would then know this page belongs to Jay cross who's a blogger, author and e-guru. Ok.. so what? Well then you'd be able to go to google and search for " Jay cross favorite bloggers" and chances are that you'll get a list of JAy cross's fav bloggers. Try this search right now and you'll get junk.

You get junk because the system is searching for matching text, not matching meaning. XML lets the system understand the meaning and so perform better.

And thanx Jay... u got me hooked on blogging and it has made my life more fun !I owe you one !

Posted by: Ramki at December 29, 2002 05:37 PM

News That Comes to You

RSS feeds offer info-warriors a way to take the pulse of hundreds of sites

J.D. Lasica, OJR Senior Editor
posted: 2003-01-23

Posted by: Jay at January 24, 2003 12:54 AM

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