Friday, December 08, 2006

Other learner blogs and RSS

There are a number of other Chinese learner blogs out there that I keep track of. It is always nice to know that you are not alone. The problem is that with these and forums and podcasts it is hard to keep up to date. Also for me a significant factor of my learning Mandarin is that I am learning online. This post is about how I handle all this information, how I intend to handle it in the future and my intentions for becoming a webstudent 2.0 :).

RSS is one of the key mechanisms that allows you to keep track of many sources of changing information on the Internet. If you are not familiar with it you can find out more. If you use RSS efficiently you can keep track of much more information than you could if you were just revisiting sites of interest in your webbrowser. Apart from Chinese learning I also monitor a lot of feeds to do with Web Development, Java, Science, etc.

Now there is too much information even for the RSS methods I was using. I have started using both netvibes (for a more graphical layout and presentation of my feeds) and google reader (more down to earth view). Both of these free services seem to deal well with Chinese characters (some other online services don't). Having these feeds managed online means I can use any computer. In particular the google reader allows me to arrange feeds in folders and then publicise them. Using a public folder I can go to a page generated by google that shows me that information from all the combined feeds. Even better the combined feed has its own RSS feed which I can pull into netvibes.

For an example I have combined the feeds from the chinesepod blog, the comments from the chinesepod blog and the chinesepod forum. You can view the output here and even grab the rss feed for this page yourself if it will help. Warning this is a very busy feed and the presence of comments means that some of the entries will be confusing and out of context. If you are trying to keep up to date with these areas though a feed like this can be a huge aid.

I have also been keeping tack of a number of Mandarin learners blogs in the bottom right handside of the my menu. The combined page for the more active of these can be viewed here. The biggest problem with the google reader I can see so far is that if I add another feed to a combined feed a bunch of the newstuff starts at the top, eventually it shakes out. Google reader in still in beta so perhaps has a few minor teething problems.


Matt Whyndham said...

Or try Bloglines - web based reader.

Chris said...

Yeah bloglines also looks good :)

At the moment I have a preference for google stuff if poss. simply because I am using google for many other things.

Edwin said...

I use both Bloglines and Netvibes. The main difference for me is that Bloglines automatically marks articles as read when loaded, but Netvibes retains the articles until you click on them.

I find Bloglines more efficient to manage blogs and forums. It also seems to perform faster. On the other hand, Netvibes is good for News.