RSS feeds – gotta love ’em

Task: Find two (2) additional examples of ‘RSS in action’, and develop a 350 word post on how RSS can enhance a library or information service’s ability to meet the information needs of its users.

Two good examples of ‘RSS in action’ are Georgetown University and The Washington Post.

An organisation with many varied departments, such as Washington DC’s Georgetown University, or an information service, such as the Washington Post newspaper, have so much information (that changes regularly, particularly in the case of a news organisation) to share with users that it can frequently be overwhelming for the user. By offering RSS feeds for particular departments or categories it enables the user to be selective and choose the areas for which they wish to receive regular updates. The user is in control of what new information they want to receive, and when they want to receive it. As RSS feeds always include links back to a Web site, it will increase traffic to the website, thereby benefiting the RSS publisher.

RSS feeds provide summaries of articles enabling the user to decide whether to download the full article or not, saving surfing/browsing time.

The user can decide when to access their RSS reader and see what news updates are available from their selected RSS feeds, negating the need to regularly check individual websites for updates, and avoiding email overload from websites informing the user of any news or blog updates. By subscribing to a certain feed, the user can get updates on it immediately. The user doesn’t even need access to an email account and the feeds will also always come in a style that the user’s computer can read.

Another advantage to the user is that RSS feeds are almost always free of charge so no paying to be on a mailing list. The user also doesn’t need to worry about being taken off a mailing list either without their knowledge as they control which lists they want to receive updates from and whether to unsubscribe at any time. Also important is that RSS feeds are very private and secure. No personal information needs to be given out when signing up for a feed. And finally RSS feeds can’t get blocked by spam or email filters.

So in a nutshell, using RSS feeds can definitely enhance an information service’s ability to meet the information needs of its users!

Worldstart provided useful information for compiling this post.

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About Sue

Sue Page is in the process of completing a Masters in Library & Information Management from Charles Sturt University in Australia.
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