Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

What the heck is RSS? Little did I know that I was reading news and blogs the Old Slow Way rather than the New Fast Way. Jeez. I’m almost as embarrassed as when it was pointed out that I still use Friendster, which is, like *so* 2003.

RSS is sweet, and this video created by The Common Craft Show (which is a pretty good example of how to explain something to visually-inclided grad students in under a minute) breaks it down. Word and RSS to your mother, yo.

There are two types of Internet users, those that use RSS and those that don’t. This video is for the people who could save time using RSS, but don’t know where to start.

Via the BBC blog Pods and Blogs, who so kindly linked me.


  1. #1 joltvolta
    May 22, 2007

    Funny, and educational. Teachers have been trying to get those two things together for years.

    — jolt

  2. #2 Johan
    May 22, 2007

    They somewhat skipped the fact that RSS readers also commonly appear as applications rather than websites. Generally, the applications tend to be a lot more responsive since everything is pre-loaded, and has lots of keyboard shortcuts.

  3. #3 llewelly
    May 22, 2007

    There’s nothing wrong with being a late adopter. In the late 1990s, there was a heavily promoted news feeds technology which was claimed to make reading news websites and blogs faster, easier, and in all ways better. It was a disaster; the design was poor, implementations were poor, and few news sites used it. It’s a forgotten technology.
    When any technology is first deployed, it is often poorly documented, poorly designed, and poorly implemented. There is also much confusion on what to use it for, and how to use it. The result is often a lot of unreliability, frustration, confusion, wasted time, and wasted energy. Then, like most new technologies, it dies an unseemly death.

    Only a minority of new technologies are sufficiently useful, well-designed, and above all, fortunate (there are some widespread technologies which are either not useful, or poorly designed, so fortune must play a strong role) enough to reach widespread adoption and persist. Late adopters skip the birthing pains, and thus save themselves a great deal of trouble.

  4. #4 Minnesotachuck
    May 22, 2007

    I use the Mozilla Firefox add-on “RSS Ticker”, and am extremely satisfied with it. A brief title of each item slowly scrolls across either the bottom or top (your choice) of the window. By positioning the cursor on a title, the scrolling stops and the first dozen or so words of the item pops up. If you want to see more, left-click and it pops up into a new tab. If not, right click and you get a number of choices, the three most pertinent are delete the item; delete all items from that feed; or delete all scrolling items. Other choices as well. I highly recommend it!

  5. #5 Jonathan
    May 22, 2007

    Absolutely! As soon as you’re regularly reading more than a couple of blogs this is completely invaluable. As they say, it is addictive and I have 100+ new posts a day. However, this includes news from the BBC which is not easy to read here in China without a reader. There is so much more than blogs that can be read in these too. I have a feed from all my Flickr contacts so I can see whenever they upload new photos and a feed from the ArXiv so I can see which new research papers have been uploaded that day. I use Google Reader for all this and it works pretty well.

  6. #6 Barry
    May 23, 2007

    Shelley, thanks for this article, I started using RSS right away. However, you should know that your own RSS link via ScienceBlogs is broken. When you click on the link to your RSS feed through the ScienceBlogs list, you just get the code displayed instead of running the application. Something missing somewhere!

  7. #7 yukon slim
    May 23, 2007


    Watch the video again. You can just copy the URL. Your RSS reader should have a place for you to add a subscription by pasting the URL.

  8. #8 Jonathan
    May 23, 2007

    In addition, with Google Reader you can now add a widget to a blog which means that with the click of a button you can share any of the posts in your feed reader straight onto your blog (I’ve labelled this ‘blog posts and news of note’).

  9. #9 Jon
    May 25, 2007

    You can get Amazon RSS feeds from

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