Monday, January 12, 2009

RSS feeds, Wikis, and me

As a practicing (yup, still haven't perfected it!) technical communicator and a board member for the Society for Technical Communication (STC) , I sometimes fool myself into thinking that I have all the tools and tricks I need for my trade. NOT. The reason? I am majorly technologically challenged. Oh, I CAN learn, and when I'm interested, I DO learn, but I have to be interested.

This afternoon, I opened an email from the Society's Technical Editing SIG (special interest group), and saw that they are now publishing their newsletter and various other wonderful informational tidbits to a Wiki. Now, I know what a Wiki is, and I have used them, but I don't consider myself at ease with them.

Within one of the many excitingly INTERESTING and informative pages of the STC TE SIG's Wiki are two videos. One explains Wikis (Presto! I'm more comfy already.) and the other explains the details of and gives directions for using RSS feeds. What a find! It interested me enough to try it and I'm now subscribing to RSS feeds all over the place. I'm thrilled. (Of course, it takes a little moxie to admit in this blog that I didn't understand them before now.)

For those of you who might be as confused as I was, here's the link to the video prepared by Common Craft: RSS Feeds in Plain English. (I also recommend you look at their site for other really cool videos that explain new-fangled techni-gizmos: Common Craftshow. )

I knew that RSS feeds had been around for years, but I'm just now realizing how cool they are! (I liken it to my knowledge of Twitter. I've signed up, and I've used it once or twice, but only while being supervised by a technologically astute person. I haven't used it since! Heck, I don't even use text messages...OK, ok...I'm wandering off the path again... But I did see another video by Common Craft explaining Twitter! My ignorance may soon be a thing of the past!)

I now have a Google Reader account and am subscribing to RSS feeds. I am becoming more techo-agile every a result, my life will be richer, my hair will be blonder, my house will be cleaner, my dog will be smarter, and so on. Right? Unfortunately, no. It's likely that I will only scratch the surface of the tool. Basically, I'm the poster girl for using 20% of something and never understanding the wonders of the other 80%. Yet, I seem to be getting along just fine in my 20% technological world.

For instance, I have myriad features on my phone and digital camera that are wasting away from neglect. I learn what I need, and never learn the fun stuff that I might enjoy, but don't need. I guess I'm still of the generation that would rather watch an old movie or curl up with a mystery novel than play with technogadgets. However, no matter how I try to ignore it, this techno-wondrous world is part of my world. Believe it or not, except when I'm at work or with my 12-year old nephew, I fake it pretty well. In fact, I'm considered a technowhiz amongst my friends and neighbors! Pretty scary, huh? As Einstein once must have said, "it's all relative."

May you and your relatives Twitter, Wiki, and Wii with wonder.

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Linda O

Linda O
Glamorous Me