Reflections on Web Search University

I got back from Web Search University late Tuesday night and since I went to work early the next morning I didn’t really have time to write up my thoughts. This was a very whirlwind WSU for me; I got to the hotel fairly late on Sunday and left on Tuesday afternoon shortly after my last session, taking just enough time to sit down with Gary Price and look at some new features (which I’ll write up next.)

The two sessions for which I was primarily responsible were both about RSS; one completely, and one partly. When I first starting mentioning RSS at Web Search University in 2004 I got a lot of blank looks. And while there were still some people who didn’t use RSS and were trying to understand it, there were also plenty of people who “got it” and used it.

In fact, based on the questions I got after the sessions, the RSS shift seems to have moved from, “Okay, what exactly is this again and why should I care” to “This is really great, I’m using it a lot, how to I introduce it to my coworkers/patrons/clients without making their heads explode?” Which is an excellent question. I think what I would recommend is showing people individual RSS feeds using a tool like Grazr to highlight the kind of content available. From there, create a list of feeds relevant to your company or institution and show some of the content available. If c/p/c’s show some interest, offer to set them up with a really basic reader like the one available from My Yahoo, or use a tool like RSSFwd to show them how they can get updates by e-mail. Encourage ’em to notice those little orange buttons all over the place.

Alas, I didn’t have any spurs to create tools like I did last year ala Kebberfegg, but I still have not been able to digest all the questions I heard and think over all the resources I learned about. Stay tuned.

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