Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Emerging Pedagogy Tools: RSS

"What blows me away is RSS," Om Malik
In a recent podcast with Steve Gillmor [Link]; Om Malik [Link] said, "What blows me away is RSS. It allows me to create my own New York Times every morning." Gillmor replied, "And, it allows us to create our own Howard Stern." Malik then said, "Yes, and our own NPR, even our own television network." I was so blown away by this that I wrote the exchange down on my grease board where it remains.

RSS is big, very big. What we have seen so far with RSS is just the tip of the iceberg. Right now when a lot of people think of the Internet they think of just two things, Web and E-mail. RSS is neither of those things. That is a good thing because E-mail, thanks to spam, is broken and the web only works if you can get somebody to your Website. RSS combines the best of both the push nature of E-mail and the pull nature of Web. With RSS we see the convergence of push and pull and it adds a whole new dimension, that dimension is time. RSS is time based and it enables the concept of the real-time Web. RSS can turn the static Web into a conversation.

A great definition of RSS can be found here on Wikipedia [Link] and here on [Link]. I don't need to repeat that. RSS is the digital dial tone (there is that term again) for delivering changing real-time content on the web. It is the XML [Definition Link] based engine behind Podcasting and Videocasting and it enables blogs and wikis to be so much more than they are as mere Web destinations. RSS changes the Internet paradigm. Just look at the explosion of podcasts we have seen in the last year. RSS is being incorporated into everything from browsers to E-mail readers. RSS aggregators are everywhere, in stand alone applications and web applications and the ability to subscribe to RSS feeds is being put into portable devices like cell phones. RSS is download based, so it doesn't demand high bandwidth between the source and the receiver. So, RSS can extend the Internet beyond the network. Creators of RSS feeds are able to shape and manipulate them as are consumers of them. It was the power of RSS that led me to create what I believe to be the first podcast in higher education. To not understand the profound impact of RSS, and how to use RSS in education will soon be to be obsolete.

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