RSS Feeds & Cognitive Surplus

For CSE629: Post a short reflect on your experience setting up your subscriptions in Google Reader. Was it frustrating? Did it go smoothly? How can you envision using subscriptions and Google Reader in your classroom or work?
I’m glad I finally got the kick to look into RSS feeds – I’ve noticed the RSS symbol plenty of times, and I’ve sometimes accessed the RSS news headline feed on my browser window, but I had never explored the process of setting up a reader to collect my own feeds.  The Google Reader is easy to use, although I wish that I could just hit the symbol and have it automatically collect to my reader, instead of logging in to Google or copying the url of the feed site.  I’ve started with two classmates’ blogs, and have added two others from Kathy’s list: Open Thinking and Tammy’s Tech Tip of the week.

I really see the advantage of using the feeder to passively collect updates from sites I find interesting, although I do miss visiting the actual sites for their creative design and formatting.  However, the ease of filtering sites into a single access point appeals to me and enables quick sorting until I find something I want to read in more depth.  This process has already led me to some wonderful posts I might not otherwise have discovererd: from Open Thinking I found a post about “crowd sourcing” and collaborative creativity, which in turn led me to another blog by Dean Shareski with the following post that introduced me to the idea of “cognitive surplus” and features a great collaborative video with detailed background information and another awesome video (a TED talk) by Clay Shirky, with a link to his keynote address to Web 2.0 Expo in 2008:

Crowd Sourcing

Keynote Address

Cognitive surplus refers to the increase of leisure time that people put to use in creative collaboration, specifically the products enabled by Web 2.0 tools, rather than consumption (like using your free time to watch TV).  Wikipedia is one example of cognitive surplus that results in an active community working together to contribute their knowledge and creativity to the world.  RSS seems like a powerful way to navigate and collect the results of this surplus, especially as the products available online just keep proliferating.

One thought on “RSS Feeds & Cognitive Surplus

  1. You can subscribe without copying in URLs — we did it this way because it put all of the addresses together on our site–easier that way. But now that you have GoogleReader set up, any time you come to something you want to subscribe to, just click the RSS symbol and choose Subscribe Now. You’ll be given options on how you want to subscribe. Choose the Google option, and then choose GoogleReader and it will automatically send the subscription to GoogleReader for you — takes about 4 seconds.

    Next term in our Big Thinkers class we are thinking about reading Clay Shirky’s “Cognitive Surplus” — along with “The Shallows” by Nicholas Carr, “Everything Bad is Good for You” by Steven Johnson, and one other book — maybe “The Dumbest Generation” by Mark Bauerlein. Haven’t finalized the decisions yet but it sounds like you might be interested in some of the books.

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