Monday, 4 July 2011

Thing 4: Current awareness - Twitter, RSS and Pushnote

Welcome to Thing 4! In this Thing we'll explore a few tools that will help you to keep up-to-date and aware of goings on in the library and information world. The three tools we have chosen to explore are Twitter, RSS feeds and Pushnote. However if there are any other tools you use for a similar purpose, feel free tell us all about it when you blog about this Thing!

Twitter is a micro-blogging service that allows you to publish short updates of up to 140 characters. Users follow other users to subscribe to each other's updates. All the updates from the users you follow will be aggregated in to one timeline that appears when you log in to the site.

Although a common belief is that Twitter is filled with celebrities tweeting about what they had for lunch, in reality few users actually use the service to send updates about the minutiae of their everyday activities, instead preferring to use it to network and share ideas or interesting things they have seen around the web. This is what makes Twitter such a valuable tool for those of us wanting to improve our current awareness.

If you already have an account, skip this paragraph! If you don't already use Twitter, follow the easy steps below to create your account and begin tweeting:
  1. Go to and click the yellow "sign up" button and follow the steps to create an account.
  2. Once you have created your account you will be taken to your Twitter homepage where you can update your profile to include a short biography, a link to your blog and a profile picture. We recommend that you leave the Twitter Privacy box unchecked because this means other CPD23 participants can read your tweets. You can always change this at any time.
  3. Now post your first update. Click in the status box at the top of the screen where you see the question "What's happening?" Write a comment, maybe something about your participation in the 23 Things programme. You are restricted to 140 characters, and as you type you will see the number at the top right of the box decrease. Leave enough characters to add #cpd23 at the end. This is known as a hashtag and allows Twitter users to group tweets by subject. By adding #cpd23 to your tweet your comment will be picked up by other participants. Once you click "Update", this tweet will be added to your timeline, and anyone who follows you will be able to see your tweet.
  4. Search for @CPD23 (or click here) and click "follow". Now our tweets will appear in your timeline!
Being able to view all updates using a particular hashtag has made Twitter a valuable tool for following conferences. For example, if you wished you'd had the chance to go to SLA's 2011 conference, here are all the tweets from conference-goers: #sla2011. Another use for the hashtag is for holding real-time Twitter chats on a particular topic. A great example of this is #libchat, the brainchild of @NatalieBinder which is held every Wednesday at 8-9.30pm EST.

Once you have been tweeting for a while and have built up a few followers, Twitter can be really handy for asking questions. To help me with this blog post I asked my followers who their top 3 Twitter accounts were for LIS news and information. (I also asked them to "retweet" this message - commonly abbreviated as "RT" - so that it reached more people.) Based on the results of this, here are a few lists of people you might like to follow for starters, then why not try finding a few yourself! If you find someone interesting, take a look at who they follow and go from there. But follow as many or as few people as you personally can manage - current awareness is good but information overload is bad!

RSS (commonly known as Really Simple Syndication) allows you to view new content from web sites, blog entries, etc in one place, without having to visit the individual sites. This obviously makes following library news and developments a lot easier, as all the news comes to you!

The first step you need to take when subscribing to RSS feeds is to sign up for a feed reader. There are many available but for the purposes of this programme we will use Google Reader as you have already created an account with Google. As an example of how to subscribe to a feed, let's get you subscribed to the CPD23 blog. In the right sidebar of this blog there is a "Subscribe to..." box. Click on the arrow next to "Posts", and click "Add to Google". This should take you to your Google Reader (you may need to sign in with your Google account) and you can then subscribe to this feed. From now on, whenever we post something new it will come straight to your Reader, eliminating the need to keep checking the site. You can subscribe to other blogs and news sites in a similar way, even if they don't have a subscribe button embedded in their site, most web browsers will have an RSS button - this may be up by the address bar, or in Firefox 4 this is in the bookmarks menu.

Here is a handy bundle of all the CPD23 blogs:
RSS feed of all CPD23 participants (this version, courtesy of Shannon Robalino, is one single feed will all the participants' posts in it)
RSS bundle of CPD23 participants (this version will load the 600+ blogs separately into your reader)

And here are a few of my favourite blogs for keeping abreast of library news and trends (again, explore for yourself, follow your interests etc!) -

Pushnote is a tool that allows you to rate and comment on any website. If any of your Twitter or Facebook friends use Pushnote as well, you can add them as a friend, and then share pages with them. You can also choose to automatically post your comments to Twitter and/or Facebook if you want to share them with a wider audience. They have a handy set of FAQs on their website here:

To sign up, go to, fill in your details and click sign up. You'll then have to download a browser add-on. Once this has downloaded you will have a new star button up by the address bar on your browser. Click on this to rate and comment on the page you are viewing, and see comments other people have left. The star will turn green when other people have commented on a page, and will turn red when your friends have commented or shared a page with you.

Unfortunately, at the time of writing, Pushnote is only available for Firefox, Chrome and Safari browsers.

What to do now!
To complete this Thing, blog about your experiences with these tools. Which did you find most useful and why? Have you come across any blogs or twitter accounts that you've found particularly useful for current awareness? Have other CPD23 particpants been sharing helpful pages via Pushnote?

Images in this post by IconTexto on


  1. Annie, it looks as though some of the links aren't quite there - I'd like to have the link to the RSS feed of participants' blogs (although I do like the way it appears in the sidebar here). The other is the Pushnote FAQ, which should be easy for us to find anyway. Thanks.

  2. Hello Headstrong,

    I've added in the link to the RSS bundle - it's also available at the very bottom left of each cpd23 page, just below the list of recent posts by participants.

    I've made the Pushnote FAQ link clickable so that you don't have to copy-and-paste it into the address bar of your browser now to get to the page.

    Katie (on behalf of Annie)

  3. RSS can also be used for multiple interest. For example sport, news, work. Maybe that might be something to add to cpd23?

  4. Sorry!! This is what comes of trying to be super-organised and writing the post 3 weeks of advance thinking "I'll just pop the RSS bundle in when it's made"...and totally forgetting. My bad! Thankfully Katie is on the ball :)

  5. Ah...but Twitter can be so much more than a 'current awareness tool' (and no doubt you'll cover this later in the programme). I blogged a wee while ago about what I get out of Twitter:

  6. Thank you for including me on the list of blogs! I'm honored!

  7. Perhaps a short article of Twitter abbreviations would be useful for those less familiar with texting and such? Not everything is as intuitive, even in context, as it might seem to someone familiar with these abbreviations. I know when I had online class chats, many students would spell out words and be confused when other students used common abbreviations.

  8. Bit of a random enquiry here -

    Will there be a downloadable certificate available at the end of cpd23? Some of the members of my team at work are really pushing their boundaries and learning lots of new things as part of this programme and it'd be great if they had some sort of reward at the end of it to put in their work cpd folders. If there are no plans to issue a downloadable certificate, I'm wondering whether to mock up my own certificate of participation for our team?

  9. Cara,

    That's a very good question. I don't know, but will raise it with the rest of the team and we'll let you know!


  10. I wonder if there is something similar to Pushnote that works on Internet Explorer as a lot of workplaces only allow that browser?

    The Learning Librarian - have a look at (you'll have to scroll down quite a bit). The worksheets were prepared a while back but it might still be useful.

  11. Hi Annie
    I've noticed that my blog The Padded Envelope doesn't appear on the Google bundle of all participants' blogs. I registered from the start and appear on the participants list on the cpd23 blog. Could this be rectified please? Thanks :)

  12. Hi Sarah,

    Sorry - not sure how you slipped through, but you should be there now. Thanks for pointing it out.


  13. Running a little late on this one. My url is

  14. Many thanks for including my blog on your list of favourite blogs!

  15. @Bobbi and Ian - You're welcome! Thank YOU for writing such interesting and useful blogs!

  16. @TheLearningLibrarian - there's a nice list of abbreviations and acronyms here:

    It's about a year old, but has all the important ones there. Also there are quite a few comments giving additional acronyms

  17. the "crowdsourced" twitter lists don't work. Is it because I am too late? :/

  18. Johanna,

    It wasn't you, it was us. A rogue link got in there somewhere, I think. It should be right now? (And for reference, the crowdsourced list, set-up by @meimaimaggio, is here:!/meimaimaggio/cpd23/members. It automatically adds anyone who tweets with the #cpd23 hashtag, so there are a few non-cpd23-ers in there too. You can tweet @meimaimaggio with any corrections needed!)

  19. Hi Katie, Sorry for the delay. I have only just got round to coming back to this. Thanks for fixing the link. It is all working fine now.



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