Sunday, October 29, 2006

RSS: Why should we care?

The Iowa library world is still buzzing from a great conference earlier this month in Council Bluffs. Keynote speaker Michael Stephens wowed the crowd with his discussion of how Web 2.0 is leading librarians towards Library 2.0. Stephen's presentation Implementing Blogs and the actual keynote address are in sub-directories of his website.

If you actually go to the site's home page,, you'll see that it's a very sophisticated and dynamic blog--in other words, perhaps the most influential of the Web 2.0 applications: The web log, where Stephens regularly posts commentaries on his RSS enabled site.

With the advent of RSS, followers of websites need no longer check the site each to see if something has changed. Instead, they use their RSS aggregator to collect URLs (links) to pages which have been "pushed" out by website of interest. Had Stephens posted the content of his "Implementing Blogs" and keynote address to the actual blog, instead of to a non-RSS enabled sub-directory, the links would have appear to have been "pushed" out to his subscribers.

In a nutshell, RSS allows readers of multiple websites to check just one page to see dynamic content. Waterloo Public Library staff members will soon see a couple of new in-service training selections: Blogger Buzz and RSS Aggregators. Participants in Blogger Buzz will create their own RSS enabled blogs. During the RSS Aggregator session they'll learn to create RSS subscriptions so that they can read new content.

As time goes on, I expect that most of the Waterloo Public Library's dynamic content will be delivered via blogs; and the blogs will point at conventional webpages with their static content. We're just getting started with Web 2.0; I wonder what Web 3.0 will bring!

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