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This chapter is from the book Staying up to date

Staying up to date

Resources and information on the Web are generated in dizzying quantities that increase exponentially every moment. How can you stay up to date with all the new, relevant information being produced? Keep this in mind: you can’t keep up with everything—it just isn’t possible or necessary. To manage the amount of information you take in, choose the 3-5 most important areas and then only take in information related to those, at least for a while. RSS feeds, podcasts and email subscriptions are all great tools to enable you to keep up with information from your favorite sites.

RSS feeds

As you may be well aware, RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, and is one of the best tools for keeping track of the new articles being posted on your favorite websites and blogs. While a lot of people know what RSS is, they don’t capitalize upon its usefulness as a way to keep up with information.

If you already have a Google account, then the Google Reader is a natural option for you as your RSS feed reader. If you are not married to Google, then some alternatives are http://Bloglines.com and the Live Bookmarks Firefox extension.

Podcasts

If you are an auditory learner, then podcasts are the ideal means for you to get new information and to have it really stick with you. There are several ways to access podcasts, which are actually RSS-based. The most common way is to get them through iTunes. You can also access podcasts through podcast clients like gPodder, http://gpodder.org/.

There are podcasts on every subject. If you are a kinesthetic learner, then podcasts are great because you can listen to them while engaging in an activity like exercising at the gym.

Email subscriptions

Most websites have an area where you can submit your email address to get on their list to receive newsletters and updates via email. If you are more email-oriented and don’t feel glutted by your current email load, this may be a good method for you, as the updates will be delivered right into your inbox.

One issue with email subscriptions is that they are less reliable than RSS notification, as they rely upon the author of the site to take the initiative to put together and send out the newsletter. Another issue is the opposite: sometimes a website author is way too prolific, and your email updates end up feeling instead like a constant barrage of spammy marketing.

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