As promised earlier I'm going to do a quick post about RSS--or really about to take advantage of a really cool technology that has become very prevalent on the web. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. Its basic purpose was to allow for news syndication to websites easily, hence really simple syndication. It was designed and first implemented by Netscape in the late 90's and has evolved over a few releases. There is a very good description and history on Wikipedia.
What's really cool about RSS is that when a new news, or in the case of a weblog like this one when a new post is created, a short description of the new content along with a link to the full content is automatically created on the site. That little summary file is called an RSS feed or an RSS channel.
But now for the best part. By installing an RSS feed aggregator, users can create customized news feed from any news site or weblog that they are interested in keeping up with. There are a lot of aggregators out there and most are free downloads. NewsGator, FeedDemon, Bloglines, and KlipFolio to name a few. I personally use Pluck because it has a few features that I personally like a lot. (Plus they are another Austin-based company, but I didn't know that 'til I'd been using Pluck for a few months.)
Here's how I use Pluck to manage my ~120 feeds. I use the Pluck IE plug-in. It was a quick download and easily installed. It runs next to my browser window like a little "sidecar" and looks very much like the MS Outlook folder view. When I find a new RSS feed that I'm interested in keeping up with I look for something like the "Syndicate This Site" link that you see in my left-hand nav bar right under the ABOUT. Some blogs and news sites have a little red RSS icon, or some other icon representing a feed. In many cases you simply drag and drop the link onto your reader--or by clicking the link it opens and registers itself with your reader. At this point you are SUBSCRIBED to the blog.
Now is when it gets really interesting. Your aggregator automatically checks your subscribed feeds for new content and updates your personal reader with notices. With Pluck the folder shows the title in bold with the number of posts I haven't read yet. So in my case without having to go visit more than 100 websites to see what's going on, my Pluck tells me what's new and makes it really easy to keep up with new content. I also find it much more convenient than receiving email notices of new content since I already get 100+ emails every day--and that's just at work. My feeds don't junk up my email box.
So now you can practice this yourself. Go pick up a reader from the list above if you don't already have one. Install it. Then come back to On Talent and click on the Syndicate This Site link. Walla--now every time I (or Hank or another guest author) post, your aggregator will show you that you have new content and you can read it at your leisure.
And while I'm at it--see the Comments link at the bottom of this post? Part of the idea of blogs is to create an industry or special interest dialog. So far this blog has been active for 2 weeks and has had 1400+ visitors, but only 10 comments! Click the link and type a comment--or if you're a blogger use the TrackBack link connect your site to mine via your comment. Or go to recruiting.com or Jobster or any of your favorite sites and join in their conversations.
That's it for tonight--hope this helps you participate more actively in blogging--at least as a reader.