April 11-14, 2007
San Francisco, California

Workshops: Description

Hands On - Exploring RSS in a Cultural Context

Jon Pratty, 24 Hour Museum, United Kingdom

This half day workshop explores the RSS phenomena as it impacts cultural providers online. It's an exploration of the way RSS is found online, how it can be accessed publicly, and case studies from recent projects, successful and unsuccessful.

We'll be looking at existing feeds in groups, discussing results, making feeds, downloading readers and trying them out.

Hands-on with RSS

From the producers point of view we'll be looking at ways to build feeds, using open source solutions and bespoke provision like the 24 Hour Museum's RSS output, and how other people make feeds using more conventional means.

During the workshop, there'll be a live demonstration of configuration of a feed, which will be published, then shown working in a feed reader application, as well as shown working live on a website.

How are feeds consumed?

We'll be looking at some examples of good and bad practice in detail. Group discussions will be facilitated about how to navigate the complexities of publishing to many, in many remote publishing contexts. How do people in different parts of the world, with different linguistic requirements look at RSS content? Does the timing of RSS publishing mean we need to consider carefully when we publish, to ensure new material is presented through feeds when people are most receptive?

Marketing RSS culture

The fragmentation of audiences means we may well need to re-appraise how we 'strand' our content or how we view the likes and dislikes of our readers/visitors/searchers. What are the problems of branding writing if our material is being consumed away from our main website? Should we be 'micro-marking' so our content is branded when aggregated into the feeds of others?


Are feed readers usable, easy to download, easy to look at and so on? Which ones are useful, which ones are not? Is it worth making specially adapted 'widget' style apps to show feeds on our websites or desktops?


When you've got your feed, what will you publish? How often? How much? What shape, size or form? Sound? Movies? Blogs and the RSS interface? We’ll be looking in depth at how content looks good and bad, sometimes, when it's found both in context, and out of context, via RSS.


At the moment, although it seems to be getting lots of headlines, RSS use by the public is still small compared to conventional web publishing. So why are we interested? How does Web 2.0 fit with RSS? Does RSS output make your site more searchable? Can these things be measured?

Who should attend?

This is not going to be a heavily technology-orientated workshop. Where I know about the software side of things, I'll communicate that, but to me it seems important that we all get a grasp of the new dimensions that RSS allows us as digital cultural publishers. So this is aimed at those with some technical knowledge, those whose interests lie in wider marketing and publishing challenges posed by RSS, and those who author and commission content who feel the need to get to grips with new opportunities.

What will you learn?

More about how RSS feeds are made in practical terms. More about how RSS introduces new challenges in terms of language and publishing style. A deeper understanding of how RSS might impact on your organisation - how to argue for it's use, what case to present to trustees etc.

A deeper understanding of how RSS fits into the Web 2.0 picture

Where it's all taking us – offsite? Off message? Into the desktops of new audiences?

Workshop: RSS & News [Afternoon]

Keywords: rss, xml, web 2.0, syndication, news feed, museum