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