Thursday, December 31, 2009

Randall Wong, MD: RSS Feeds, Aggregators, and E-mail News

I write for two different “eye” blogs weekly. Finding time to write is an issue, but I’ve found a very quick and organized way to keep current with ophthalmic news. By using feeds and accumulators, I am able to keep up to date on everything that interests me in ophthalmology. Period.

I have news and health information sent to me. Every day.

Readers and aggregators are services that will track any “subscription” that you may be interested in following. For instance, I used to receive Ocular Surgery News in the mail. It is one of the more comprehensive free magazines we receive that covers all subspecialties in ophthalmology. I don’t read the magazine any more. Takes too much time. I subscribe only to retina articles (I am a retina specialist) published by OSN.
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So instead of going to the Web site to search for new stuff, the Web site comes to me. I don’t have to sift through a Web page only to find there is nothing new in retina news today. A huge time saver.

I follow this blog on a reader. If the featured article of the day interests me, I click on it.

I use Google Reader and Bloglines. Both are free. All you need to do is establish an account. Did I mention it’s free?

E-mail is still worthwhile and may be a very satisfactory substitute for readers and aggregators for receiving new posts or articles on sites that you follow. For instance, readers that subscribe to my blog can receive an e-mail any time a new article is published on my site.

I have set the blog up to send subscribers an excerpt of my article along with the title. If the reader is interested in reading the whole article, she may follow the link to my site and read the entire article. Simple.

Some subscription services send the entire article for you to read. You never have to even visit the Web page.

E-mail is great if 1) the Web site allows you to subscribe via e-mail and 2) you don’t want to follow lots of sites. The more sites you follow (some people follow hundreds of sites), the more you might want to consider RSS feeds and aggregators.

Hope this was helpful as you plan your technology resolutions for next year.

Randall Wong, MD, is a retinal specialist in private practice in Fairfax, Va. Wong has a strong interest in Web 2.0, the Internet, and social media, and will write regularly about how social media can help build your practice and even improve healthcare.

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