Mastering the Fundamentals: RSS Reader

Two years ago I had the opportunity to brief a room full of Air Force executives (and another 20 on video teleconference) on Enterprise 2.0.  I only had 5-10 minutes at the end of a staff meeting to make the pitch and I wasn’t successful in achieving broad adoption.  I knew their awareness of blogs, wikis, and social networks was limited, so I felt the need to cover the basics.  The point in the meeting that I knew it was a lost cause was when I said: “So you’re all familiar with Wikipedia…” and see a room full of blank stares.  Oh boy.

In hindsight I realized my pitch was all wrong. I should have lead more with the benefits to their daily operations and less on the 101 details.  With such a complex message I should have pushed for a separate venue with more than a few minutes to convey the ideas.  But it did remind me that before I can go into the advanced concepts and applications of digital technology to redefine Pentagon operations, we must educate the community on the fundamentals. There are so many great tools out there to transform their daily work, but they simply don’t know which ones and how to apply them.

Over a series of posts I’ll cover the fundamentals of these digital tools to provide novices a foundation to build upon and spark ideas to improve their operations. I’ll start with RSS and RSS Readers.

RSS is Really Simple Syndication  is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format.  RSS feeds can be read using software called an RSS reader, which can be web-based, desktop-based, or mobile-device-based. The user subscribes to a feed by entering into the reader the feed’s URI or by clicking a feed icon in a web browser that initiates the subscription process. (Source: Wikipedia)

Google Reader is the leading RSS Reader.

Google Reader is a critical part of my daily routine to stay current on dozens of sites.  It has proven invaluable in knowing and sharing the latest industry news with colleagues and sponsors. It also recommends related items and sources that I otherwise would have never found.

I strongly encourage all knowledge workers to setup an RSS reader like Google Reader.

  • Add the feeds of your regular newspapers, magazines and websites
  • Add the links on my Blogroll and Defense News sites (see right)
  • Setup news alerts for key words (e.g. C4ISR, Cyber), leaders, and organizations
  • Program and portfolio managers should establish alerts for their program names

Instead of reading newspapers, magazines, or individual sites, you’ll read the same material in half the time or you can cover 2-3 times the material in the same amount of time. You’ll gain knowledge, time, and a step ahead of others. What are you waiting for?


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