Introduction to Blogs and RSS

Prepared for Monroe County Bar Association CLE program, May 8, 2007

Revised for UB Law School faculty workshop, May 9, 2007

What Is a Blog?

According to Wikipedia:

A blog (short for web log) is a website where entries are made and displayed in a reverse chronological order.

Blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject, such as food, politics, or local news; some function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of most early blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual although some focus on photographs (photoblog), sketchblog, videos (vlog), or audio (podcasting), and are part of a wider network of social media.

How Do I Find Law-Related Blogs?

How Do I Subscribe to Blogs?

Blog postings are distributed, and subscribed to, through an RSS feed.

RSS – or ‘Really Simple Syndication’ – is an alternative means of accessing the vast amount of information that now exists on the world wide web.

Instead of the user browsing websites for information of interest, the information is sent directly to the user.

There are two halves to the RSS system that allows this to happen.

The first is that the user needs to have an ‘RSS reader’ (sometimes called an aggregator). This is a program which collects the raw XML news feeds from websites that are RSS-compatible and turns them into text and links that a user can browse at his or her leisure.

The beauty of this is that a user can take feeds only from websites that are of interest to them, and that it allows you to scan the latest information from a range of sources without having to visit half a dozen different websites.

The second half of the RSS system is that a website must have a feed specially set up to work with the news reader. Most big news websites now have such systems – and the links are highlighted with the orange ‘RSS’ boxes as seen below.

These feeds list the latest news stories in a programming language known as XML. The user sets the URLs for these feeds into the news reader, and hey presto – the website comes to the user, rather than the user coming to the site.

How Do I Read Blogs?

Using a feed reader, or RSS aggregator:

Is RSS Just for Blogs?

How Do I Write a Blog?

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About James G. Milles

Professor of Law, SUNY Buffalo Law School

Posted on May 7, 2007, in Blogs. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I bet you’re finding that it’s tough to cover what a blog is and how they are used in brief cle programs. I know I do.

    Updated design looks nice. Hope I’m not offending you if it shows I haven’t been to the site in a while.

    And thanks for the mention of LexBlog Jim.

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