As Downes starts to commission his daily/serialised feed platform, here are a few more fragmentary thoughts about feeds and feed items…
If we are to construct uncourses out of separate “blog posts” (that is, out of small chunks of content that can be sensibly represented as independent RSS feed items) then it would be handy to get access to that content in bite size RSS chunks.
At the moment, it’s quite hard to get RSS representations of blog content anywhere except from the original feed. A search on a blog search engine does not turn up all the content of the search result posts in the search engine, just the opening fragment. In a feed reader such as Bloglines or Google Reader, all the blog posts are indexed, can often be saved as favourite and are typically displayed as full text/full post results following a search.
But can I construct a new feed containing some of those separate, search result and favourited feed items in an order I require? I don’t think so…
So here’s what I have in mind – something like the Grazr editor that lets me construct new feeds by dragging and dropping the content of separate feed items from my feed reader and into a “new feed” editor. The editor would let me construct and publish new feeds using items collected from arbitrary feeds, and then maybe drag and drop those items around inside the editor to change the order they are listed in.
The easiest way of doing this would probably be to extend a current feed reader, since feed readers tend to sit on top of platforms that already have a database store of separate feed items.
It would be more satisfying, however, for blogging engines to publish single item RSS versions of each blog post. That is, as well publishing each blog post as a separate HTML page, and as well as adding the content of each post to the blog feed and any corresponding category feeds, the blog engine should also publish a separate RSS feed containing just a single item, made up from the title and body (description) of the corresponding post.
This shouldn’t be too hard to do – as well as the page template for each post, we just need a minimal template to publish the post as a single item RSS formatted document.
WordPress blogs already offer page level feeds, of course, but as far as I know they just syndicate the comments posted to each page?
(As a workaround for OUseful.info, my WordPress single feed item (raw) pipe does some screenscraping to generate a single item RSS feed version of a OUseful.info blog post from it’s HTML page version, and the WordPress single feed item pipe takes the scraped blog post content and adds it to the top of the comment feed that WordPress already publishes for each post…)
Why would I want to do this? Well suppose I want to publish my own crazy learning journey through OpenLearn content – the easiest way would be just just grab the RSS version of each page I wanted from whatever course it happened to be on, and construct my own series of posts/pages as a new feed. (If you’re interested in this, here are some tricks and tools that will let you do it (if they still work and haven’t rotted yet?!):
- Embedding Single OpenLearn Unit Pages in an Arbitrary Blog Post;
- Single Item RSS Feeds from OpenLearn Pages
PS Note to self – check to see if Microsoft pursued web slices in IE?