1. Perry, William MA, RN

Article Content

The Internet has brought the spirit of global communication and collaboration to nurses and other healthcare professionals in ways never before thought possible. These resources are offered to expand your opportunities for discussion, reference, education, and research.


There's been quite a bit of information floating about the Web about using a technique called RSS (Really Simple Syndication, Rich Site Summary) to create automatically updating Web pages that draw information from a wide variety of sources. These could include Web logs (blogs), current journal tables of content, PubMed searches, and even podcasts.


The most traditional method of reading these self updating articles is to use a piece of software called a news aggregator or feed reader. From the Wikipedia "Aggregators reduce the time and effort needed to regularly check Websites for updates, creating a unique information space or "personal newspaper." Once subscribed to a feed, an aggregator is able to check for new content at user-determined intervals and retrieve the update. The content is sometimes described as being "pulled" to the subscriber, as opposed to "pushed" with e-mail or instant messaging (IM). Unlike recipients of some "pushed" information, the aggregator user can easily unsubscribe from a feed."

Figure. No caption a... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. No caption available.

There are both standalone and Web-based readers. I like the Web-based readers such as Bloglines ( because your personally collected content is available from any computer attached to the Internet. It could be your own computer, a friend's computer, or even a computer at the public library. Bloglines enables you to create a custom collection of news items, blog feeds, podcasts and e-mail newsletters. It's a great way to read a wide variety of content all in one place. Google has an feature called the "Google Reader" that allows you to create similar custom content (


CIN has published articles about RSS feeds and blogs in the past such as: Yensen. J, (2005). Leveraging RSS feeds to support current awareness. Computers, Informatics, Nursing. 23(3):164-167 and Maag, M (2005). The potential use of "blogs" in nursing education. 23(1):16-26. Go back and look at these tremendous articles to get a more in depth view of the hows and whys of RSS and blogs.


There are several sites on the Internet offering free personalized home pages. Microsoft has Windows Live, Google has a personalized page at, Pageflakes at, Netvibes at plus several others. All offer the ability to customize a page with news, weather, RSS feeds, bookmarks, and other useful and fun tools. A very useful feature of Pageflakes is the ability to make your personal pages available to others. A disadvantage of Pageflakes is its inability to subscribe to podcasts. (a podcast is essentially an audio blog). You'd be off with Google Reader, Bloglines or iTunes for subscribing to podcasts.


Inspired by blog postings at and, I've created one at: that demonstrates a current journal (Computers, Informatics, Nursing), two online journals (Journal of Medical Internet Research and The Informatics Review) and PubMed search on Nursing Informatics and a list of bookmarks.


Think this approach might be useful in your hospital staff development program or university course? I've begun exploring the possibilities with our medical library and university library of making specialty specific pages for both medicine and nursing. The combinations and possibilities are what the Internet is all about.


Contributed by


William A. Perry, MA, RN