Showing posts with label rss. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rss. Show all posts

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A Facebook feed for the open web

I really don't care that much for Facebook. I don't watch enough movies to take the little quizzes, and I'm not really all that interested in throwing a vampire at my friends, or whatever those weird little applications are supposed to be. I hear that some people use it for professional networking, but most of the pros I know are on LinkedIn, and so am I, and that seems to be sufficient. Not like I have a zillion contacts, but all I really want to know for most of these people is where they live, where they work, and how I can get hold of them if I need to. LinkedIn works brilliantly for that.

I do like the Facebook minifeeds, though. A minifeed, if I understand correctly, is an aggregation of all the things that a Facebook user is doing on Facebook - updating status, adding friends, using applications. For each friend, getting updates on what they're doing moment-by-moment on Facebook is interesting, and the Facebook homepage aggregates all my friends' feeds into a single one and sorts it by time. So when I do log on to Facebook, I can see at a glance what all these people are doing, at least in the last few hours.

Picture by Somewhat Frank

But there's plenty of stuff on the open web that could go into a minifeed just as easily. A lot of sites are making sure they have Facebook applications now, but not every one, and

who wants to rely on a Facebook app for something that isn't really anything more than an RSS feed?

So, I decided to put my own life-feed together. Unfortunately, finding an application that simply turns a bunch of RSS and Atom feeds into one publically available feed turned out to be harder than I expected. If you know of an easy solution, tell me about it - but keep in mind that of the first four feeds I tried to combine, three were sufficiently different to bring down every solution I tried - those are Google Reader shared items, this blog, and my LibraryThing book reviews.

I ended up creating a web page directly rather than creating a feed - I didn't feel like learning all the ins-and-outs of RSS or Atom. So, if you want to follow my life, almost minute by minute, check out this page - or just check out my home page, which has a small iframe in it with that page in it, which is how I intended to use the feed anyway. You can't subscribe to my life just yet, but maybe that will be coming soon!

Along with my feeds mentioned above, the page aggregates Twitter posts, and soon I'll add my Flickr pictures and maybe Delicious , Coastr, or Zelky if they have the feeds in the format I need. I'm looking forward to having my own life feed!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Michael Gartenberg - Still Not Twittering

Michael Gartenberg is still not twittering, poor unenlightened soul. He prefers to use Facebook for his minute-to-minute status, and doesn't want to add another bunch of contacts to another social network after having done it twice with Facebook and LinkedIn. Sure can't blame him for that. To mix a metaphor, the walled gardens need to start playing a little more nicely with each other. I think then we'll all be a little more inclined to add a new network to our lists. I got a Jaiku account after the Google news, but I haven't put forth the effort to put a bunch of my contacts on it, or to find a nice client for it, and because of that I haven't even looked at the web page in days.

Michael also points out that it's another feed to check. He's already got a bunch of RSS feeds, work email, and personal email, and doesn't want another feed to look at.

But he is willing to admit that he might be missing things. The issue of how to prioritize feeds is coming up for me, too. The feeds in my information stream generally break down to:

  • General status updates and tweets

  • Quick-skim blog entries, newspaper articles, longer forum discussion posts

  • Technical papers, long blog entries, that you can't really get the gist of by skimming

  • General or group emails

  • Emails specifically to me, or that I need to deal with

  • Tweets specifically to me

(Picture by Pete Reed)

How these are prioritized, and how they should be prioritized, are two different beasts. Certainly my top priority items are emails and tweets for me - they're the things I want to read first. After that, depending on how much time I have, I may want to skim the short items or buckle down to a technical paper. But how I actually prioritize them is via the application they're sitting on. I have a Twitter reader, Outlook, Gmail, and Google Reader to grab all these different feeds: stuff that comes in via Outlook gets highest priority since it has the nicest toast mechanism. Teletwitter, my twitter reader, doesn't always pop toast properly, so I'll often miss messages on it, although I don't care so much since they're low priority. Except, of course, for the ones targeted to me, which are high priority, but which I still miss since there's no way to grab them out of the twitter stream. And if a good technical paper comes across Google Reader, I'll probably share or star it to come back to as I J-J-J through the list, then forget about it entirely.

So there's clearly work to be done in this space.

I am absolutely sure that all my streams can be prioritized together properly, because it seems to me that it can be mechanized without too much trouble, but I'm not sure how yet. But I'm sure someone out there is already working on the issue.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Government RSS Feeds

Sophia Travis is a Monroe County Council member - and, remarkably, one who is sophisticated enough to have her own blog. On one post, she asks what information we'd like to see on the Monroe County web pages. I would like to see an RSS feed. Here's why: Government business does not lend itself well to the regular web page format. The people's business does; the most important thing for the web site will always be ways to contact government officials; how to apply for permits; pay parking tickets; vote, etc. But government business consists mostly of a neverending string of public meetings, each one with an agenda beforehand and minutes afterwards. The best way to present a stream of information like that is with a feed. For example, I've already created a feed for the Council meetings using the very nice, if complex, Feed43 service. My feed will do the job, giving me an update through my feed reader whenever a new meeting agenda or minutes are posted, but it's pretty content-free, as the feed can't do much except monitor each row of the table of meetings on the page. But suppose the county tech services people set up an easy way to post updates using TypePad or Blogger - suddenly it's easy for them to update the site and there's a good description of the update in the feed. Then, perhaps, it could be expanded using the same feed, to give information on other public meetings, notice of events the council members are participating in, and any other kind of information that has a time element. I'm thinking this is actually a time saver, at least for that one poor soul whose responsibility it is to go in and edit the HTML table on the page whenever new meeting minutes are available!

What would you like to see on your local government web site?