Creating a Listening Post for your Blog (Part 1: RSS)

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As I enter the planning phase of the Library Currents blog project, the amount and level of research seems daunting to me. I could attempt to search for websites and blogs in Google to find articles related to social media technologies and libraries, but in a week’s time I would probably have to visit the same sites again to see what’s new.

I have heard of the idea of a “listening post” in previous articles around the web, and how they are combined with RSS to streamline the research process of many bloggers. The idea is to create an account in an RSS reader to follow the main websites that are relevant to your needs… and your reader’s needs.

For this project blog, I decided to set up a listening post using Feedly, a very popular and easy-to-use online RSS reader (Google reader is now discontinued). There are many features about Feedly’s service that I find appealing, such as the ability to organize RSS feeds into folders, or to change how your feeds are viewed. I prefer the large thumbnail view, which organizes your latest RSS posts in rows of three with the post’s image thumbnail on top. I am a visual learner, so taking in the information is easier if I scan the posts first by looking at the images.

Feedly also has a neat feature that looks for the RSS feed of a website by simply typing in the site’s root domain name. Chances are, if there is no RSS feeds on the site, Feedly will be stumped and give zero results. If there are more than one RSS feed (for different subjects or areas), then it will give you a list of feeds to subscribe to.

For the Library Currents project blog, I decided to include feeds for both Library and non-Library sites. The Library sites are those mainly devoted to technologies for libraries or “Library 2.0” blogs. For the non-Library sites, I chose to include tech blogs and business blogs with a technical slant. The following is just a sample of some of the RSS feeds I collected.

Library-related:

Tech/Biz Blogs:

Not all blogs or websites have an RSS feed, so what is the owner of a listening post to do? The answer is to create your own RSS feed of that website! There are several websites that can create an RSS feed of any site as long as you have a URL. If the site is on a secure-server (https:) or has multiple frames or other such crazy designs, then it may not work. But that is in the minority. My favorite RSS link builder is FeedDude.com! (Just be sure you are not using the feeds commercially, such as creating a commercial website of feeds as opposed to a personal listening post.) There are many others, but some insert ads in-between posts, which will gum up your Feedly with useless gunk!

Creating a listening post for blogging is easy using RSS feeds. In Part 2 of “Creating a Listening Post for your Blog,” I will discuss how to set-up social media for a listening post, including Facebook!

Was this post helpful? Is there anything you could add or questions you might have? Please provide a comment below!

Series Navigation<< Determining the Scope of the Project Blog for Library CurrentsCreating a Listening Post for your Blog (Part 2: Social Media) >>
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Mickel is an MLIS and the creator of Library Currents. His inspiration for the blog was the SJSU course "The Hyperlinked Library" taught by Dr. Michael Stephens, a course that is also a worldwide MOOC. If you wish to contact him, feel free to write to Mickel Paris at librarycurrents1@aol.com.

2 Comments

  1. michael

    September 2, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    Great stuff and good initiative to make your own feed.

    • Library Currents (Mickel Paris)

      September 2, 2013 at 5:11 pm

      Thank you, it’s really amazing how much time Feedly saves!

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