For Things 8 and 9, we were asked to take some time to explore RSS feeds, feed readers, and the various ways to find new feeds. I have to be honest here and tell you right off the bat that I have been a hopeless RSS addict for at least a year. It's a great way to get all of your information in one place, no matter where you are. Feed readers like Bloglines and Google Reader allow me to go to one place and see which of my favorite sites have been updated since I last checked. I am a fan because (a) I don't have to go to each site separately to see if there's anything new and (b) I don't have to remember any of the URLs or save the bookmarks on any of the various computers I use. So it's a bit of a double bonus. Mostly, though, I like the ability to log in and quickly check up on news and cartoons (or the recap of last night's Mets game!). If I don't have a lot of time, I can leave posts unread, or star them to read later. When I do have a lot of time do catch up, I can go back through and since it saves everything I haven't read, I don't have to worry about missing anything.
I normally use Google Reader (because it's linked in with Gmail and Google Calendar, which I also use daily), so for this challenge, I set up a Bloglines account so I could see the difference. I added a few of my favorite feeds to get started. You can check out my blogroll here: http://www.bloglines.com/public/elizabetht.
One thing that I like about Bloglines rather than Google Reader is that it's easy to share your list of blogs with others. I organized mine into folders: library blogs, craft and design sites, and diversions (comics and sports and stuff like that). I feel a bit like I'm gushing here, because I get sort of nerdy when it comes to RSS, but it has really changed how I surf the web. I spend almost all day at work in front of a computer, so when I get home, I'm not interested in going to a whole host of sites to see if anything's new. With RSS, I can quickly check in and then move on with my life. So it's good.
For Thing 9, I tried a little blog searching, on Bloglines, and Technorati, and Topix. (I couldn't get Syndic8 to load when I tried it.) I thought that Topix was a good way to find articles and news items in a specific area. For finding new blogs to read (rather than individual posts), I found both Technorati and the Bloglines search to be pretty good. I was searching for blogs written by reference librarians, and I found some that looked interesting using Bloglines and Technorati. With any new blog, we'll see how I like it after a few weeks... but it's always fun to start reading someone new. While these blog searching sites are great, I still feel that the very best way to find new blogs and topical blogs is by following the links from one to another, or in the blogrolls of your friends (and OCL Web Things colleagues, in our case!). I suppose it goes back to why this whole thing is called a Web... but it's the truth.