Archive for September 2006

Explaining RSS & Serendipity on the Internet

September 22, 2006

RSS is a concept that I have a difficult time describing in a way that doesn’t result in a thought baloon with Huh? appearing over the listener’s head. Stephanie Quilao over at Back In Skinny Jeans does a terrific job with her post, How to explain RSS the Oprah way. In tech-speak, RSS is “Really Simple Syndication.” In Oprah-speak, it is “Ready for some stories.” Read Stephanie’s explanation regardless of your experience. If you know nothing about RSS, the scales will fall from your eyes. If you are a whiz with RSS, it will help you explain it to your colleagues.

When you go to Back in Skinny Jeans you might ask yourself, “What earthly reason does Mack have for going to a web site about beauty and weight loss?” My arrival there is an example of how information is distributed across the Internet and how unlikely connections are made. The sequence went like this:

  1. Stephanie posts the article to her blog
  2. Steve Rubel on the Micro Persuasion blog posts about it later that day.
  3. Jill Stover picks up the story from Micro Persuasion and blogs about it today on her blog, Library Marketing-Thinking Outside the Book. Jill is the Undergraduate Services Librarian at VCU, by the way.
  4. I’m a subscriber to Library Marketing, I read Stephanie’s “how to …”, and wrote this blog entry.

There are three degrees of separation between me and the original blog entry. If I didn’t subscribe to blogs, I might not have run across Stephanie’s blog entry since weight loss and beauty would not ordinarily be interest triggers for me. But because I subscribe to 153 blogs (soon to be 154 after I add Micro Persuasion) this sort of unlikely linkage is less remarkable than you might think. On the Internet you really can’t predict where something of interest will turn up. So read a lot, read broadly, and follow links – there is a lot of good stuff out there.