Tune Your Feeds…

I’m so glad we’re at year’s end: I’m completely bored of the web, my feeds contain little of interest, I’m drastically in need of a personal reboot, and I’m starting to find myself stuck in a “seen-it-all-before” rut…

Take the “new” Google Circle’s volume slider, for example… Ooh.. shiny… ooh, new feature…

Yawn… Slider widgets have been around for ages, of course (e.g. Slider Widgets Around the Web) and didn’t Facebook allow you to do the volume control thing on your Facebook news feeds way back when, when Facebook’s feeds were themselves news (Facebook News Mixing Desk)?

Facebook Mixing desk

Does Facebook still offer this service I wonder?

On the other hand, there is the new Google Zeitgeist Scrapbook… I’m still trying to decide whether this is interesting or not… The prmeise is a series of half completed straplines that you can fill in with subheadings that interest you, and reveal a short info paragraph as a result.

Google scrapbook

Google scrapbook

The finished thing is part scrapbook, part sticker book.

Google scrapbook

The reason why I’m not sure whether this is interesting or not is because I can’t decide whether it may actually hint at a mechanic for customising your own newspaper out of content from your favoured news provider. For example, what would it look like if we tried to build something similar around content from the Guardian Platform API? Might different tag combinations be dragged into the story panels to hook up a feed from that tag or section of the “paper”? And once we’ve acted as editor of our own newspaper, might advanced users then make use of mixing desk sliders to tune the volume of content in each section?

This builds on the idea that newspapers provide you with content and story types you wouldn’t necessarily see, whilst still allowing to some degree of control over how weighted the “paper” is to different news sections (something we always had some element of control over before, though at a different level of granularity, for example, by choosing to buy newspapers only on certain days because they came with a supplement you were interested in, though you were also happy to read the rest of the paper since you have it…)

(It also reminds me that I never could decide about Google’s Living Stories either…)

PS in other news, MIT hints at an innovation in the open educational field, in particular with respect to certification… It seems you may soon be able to claim some sort of academic credit, for a fee, if you’ve been tracked through an MITx open course (MIT’s new online courses target students worldwide). Here’s the original news release: MIT launches online learning initiative and FAQ.

So I wonder: a “proven” online strategy is to grab as big an audience as you can as quickly as you can, then worry about how to make the money back. Could MIT’s large online course offereings from earlier this year be seen in retrospect as MIT testing the water’s to see whether or not they could grow an audience around online courses quickly?

I just wonder what would have happened if we’d managed to convert a Relevant Knowldge course to an open course accreditation container for a start date earlier this year, and used it to offer credit around the MIT courses ourselves?!;-) As to what other innovations might there be around open online education? I suspect the OU still has high hopes for SocialLearn… but I’m still of the mind that there’s far more interesting stuff to be done in the area of open course production

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

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