Allow me to preach the gospel of the RSS feed for a moment.
Any site that has syndicated content–i.e., any blog or site built with WordPress–has an RSS feed. Subscribing to an RSS feed is the easiest way to make sure that you are up-to-date on information, events, and changes from your favorite organizations and web authors.
You can have updates sent to an email account, but I prefer having my feeds sent to an RSS reader. (I hate cluttering my email inbox any more than it already is!) A reader will aggregate RSS feeds so that you can read through them all in one place. This eliminates the need to “make the rounds” of all your favorite websites or to create an endless system of bookmarks to check regularly.
Most readers will allow you to organize your RSS feeds by topic. Some offer social media-type features that allow you to like or share posts with others using the same aggregator service as you read them. I use Google Reader, but here’s a helpful rundown and comparison of other readers to choose from.
If you have an RSS-feed reader already, be sure to subscribe to the Public Humanities Toolbox. Al and I have decided that it makes the most sense going forward to make updates to this website and post about them in our blog, rather than put out re-issue after re-issue of the Handbook. By following our blog in your RSS aggregator, you’ll know when we update tools, add new tools, or point to new examples of tools being used by other small cultural heritage organizations.
This post isn’t just a shameless plug to encourage our readers to follow us in their RSS-feed readers. I added the “New Tools” icon because I think RSS feeds can serve small cultural heritage organizations in several helpful ways:
- If your organization has a blog, be sure to encourage your users to subscribe to your feed. As I mentioned in the catablogs post, there may be specific instances when showing people how to subscribe to an RSS feed of your organization’s blog would serve you well. If you host workshops for targeted groups–genealogists, say, or teachers–include a quick session on RSS feeds and why they might find them useful. Consider creating a flyer about how to subscribe and what to expect of your organization’s RSS feed.
- As a small organization, especially one interested in the burgeoning and fast-changing world of digital humanities, it’s critical to keep on top of changes and best practices. Finding a way to do this cheaply–i.e., without attending expensive conferences!–is critical. Subscribing to the RSS feeds of organizations you admire, consultants whose advice you value, or organizations that review and/or publish new digital tools, can help you keep up with new tools, methods, and questions in the field. And it can give you ideas for where to take your digital projects next! (Twitter, as we’ve noted elsewhere, is also a way to easily keep up.)