Picking up on Adding Value to the Blog Award Nomination Collections…, here’s a way of generating an OPML feed bundle of categorised feed URLs from a list of tagged blog homepage URLs. What the OPML allows you to do is take a list of URLs, such as the URLs for the blogs nominated in the COmputer Weekly 2010 IT Blog Awards, and subscribe to them all in one go using something like Google Reader. In addition, the OPML is structured so that the feeds are organised in separate “folders” according to the award category that they are nominated in.
So how does it work?
What’s the easiest way to read a document published on JISCPress or WriteToReply? One answer is just to read the document on the parent site, but another way is to pull the content into another space using the RSS/Atom syndication feeds that WordPress makes available, and that the digress.it plugin opens up even further.
In what follows, I’ll use URLs for example docs published on both JISCPress:
The simplest subscription option is just to subscribe to the document as an RSS feed:
This will pull the whole document into your feedreader, with each section of the document (i.e. each “page” of the doc as published on JISCPress/WriteToReply) as it’s own “blog post”.
Note that this form of subscription displays the posts in reverse order – to view the sections that make up the document in the “proper” order, we use URLs of the form:
To view the comments from the document as a whole, we need a URL that looks like:
It is also possible to get a separate RSS feed out of the platform for each page, as well as a separate comment feed for each page. For example, single item RSS feeds, where each page has an RSS feed with one item in it – the content of that page:
And for comment feeds on a page basis:
If you were viewing any of these sorts of feed in a feed reader such as Google Reader, you would be able to favourite and share each separate page or each separate comment, for example.
For an example of the sort of thing this makes possible, see An Example Netvibes Dashboard for the Digital Britain Interim Report on WriteToReply.
We can also get feeds out on a page basis where each paragraph has a separate feed item to itself:
If you were viewing these sorts of feed in a feed reader such as Google Reader, you would be able to favourite and share each separate paragraph.
With so many separate feed URLs available, it can be a problem entering them separately into a dashboard such as Netvibes or a feed reader such as Google Reader, so I’ve created a couple of OPML generators:
They both take similar sorts of parameters, which are a little opaque at the moment as I try to work out sensible OPML element configurations.
The first parameter we need for the generator specifies the document:
Then we have the parameters b, c, s, and p… If you set these parameters in the URL (e.g. b=1, c=1&s=1), they act as follows:
$c = (isset($_GET[‘c’])) ? true : false;
// import feeds corresponding to comment feeds at the page level (i.e. each page will have its own comment feed or tab in the reader/dashboard)
$s = (isset($_GET[‘s’])) ? true : false;
// import feeds corresponding to single feed item per page feeds (i.e. each page will have its own feed or tab in the reader/dashboard; a single feed item will represent the whole of the page contents)
$p = (isset($_GET[‘p’])) ? true : false;
// import paragraph level feeds at the page level (i.e. each page will have its own feed or tab in the reader/dashboard and each paragraph will be a separate feed item)
if ((!($c))&&(!($p))) $s=true;
//default behaviour – if no comments and no para level feeds, use single item page level content feeds
$b = (isset($_GET[‘b’])) ? true : false;
// bundled – one folder – all the feeds will be imported into a single folder/page
// the default should be true, but it isn’t, so you’d be advised to normally set this parameter…
Using these various parameters, you can create a range of OPML files that can be used for the bulk import of feeds from a document published on WriteToReply or JISCPress. (Typically, you will need to donwload a copy of the OPML file to your desktop and then upload it to your dashboard/feed reader application. Download the document using File->Save Page As (and then choose the simplest format possible… e.g. Web Page, XML only).)
So for example:
These OPML feeds can be useful for:
– importing feeds into Netvibes in one go, and creating dashboards with either one tab per document, or separate tabs for each document;
– importing feeds into Google Reader, so that you can read, share and favourite parts of documents (even down to the paragraph level if you import paragraph level feeds).
[Note: I’m thinking that the generation of paragraph level feeds needs tweaking in digress.it so that the title shows the first 50 or so characters of the paragraph, rather than the page title?]
Reading lists hit the news last week with Read/Write Web picking up a post from the venerable Dave Winer about Google get[ting] a patent on reading lists. The patent was filed in 2005, a year or so after Dave Winer blogged:
One of the innovations flowing out the Share Your OPML site is the idea of reading lists. An expert in a given area puts together a set of feeds that you would subscribe to if you want a balanced flow of information on his or her topic of expertise. You let the expert subscribe to feeds on your behalf. I’ve gotten the first taste of what this is like by reading the aggregator page on the Share Your OPML site. As new sites come on the Top-100, as the aggregated interests of the community shift, I automatically start reading sites I wasn’t reading before. I don’t have to do anything. I like this. So at last Thursday’s Berkman meeting I asked two of our regulars, Rick Heller and Jay McCarthy, to start doing these reading lists, and Rick is ready with what he calls a list of “political blogs that provide a balanced diet of liberal and conservative views.”
So what are dynamic reading lists? Take one or more RSS feeds, and declare their URIs as items in a reading list feed. Subscribe to that reading list feed. Now whenever there is a change made to the items contained in either of the RSS feeds, the person who subscribed to the reading list feed sees those changes. So a reading list (which could be maintained by anyone) is something I can subscribe to with a single click. And that reading list can be managed, can contain RSS feeds or other reading lists that are curated by other people.
As a student, my degree could have a reading list that contains links to reading lists for each of my courses. Those course reading lists could be maintained by course instructors, and might contain feeds from other students taking the course. I subscribe to single reading list. My instructor on a particular course can change the contents of one of the feeds that is identified in my reading list. I see those changes via my degree reading list.
So it may have occurred to you that reading lists are a great way of sharing a curatorial load… and you’d be right :-)
Another example of the reading list/shared curation pattern is exemplified by Jon Udell’s elmcity project, which allows for separately maintained calendar feeds to be managed and aggregated using the Delicious social bookmarking tool (e.g. Collaborative curation as a service or elmcity project FAQ.
DeliTV also uses a similar pattern to allow users to define video playlists (that may contain other video playlists) on delicious, and then watch them in Boxee or via an appropriate mobile device (e.g. Deli TV – Personally Programmed Social Television Channels on Boxee: Prototype and An Unintended Consequence: DeliTV Goes Mobile on iPhone and Android).
It’s been some time since I properly tinkered with OPML, one of the most convenient formats for describing reading lists, so here’s a note to self about some the services that might be worth playing with:
- Scott Wilson’s JOPML, an OPML bundler for TicTocs RSS feeds (see e.g. Mashlib Pipes Tutorial: 2D Journal Search);
- Scott Wilson’s Ensemble generator, that cobbles together an OPML feed of OERs based on a specified search term;
- a couple of my own, very old, experiments: Social Bookmarking OPML Feed Roller, or Persistent News Search OPML Feed Roller; and not forgetting the OPML Dashboard Display and Disaggregating an MIT OpenCourseware Course into Separate RSS Feeds of course;-)
- @cogdog – you got any OPML/reading lists demos/hacks?;-)
On my to do list is also a way of putting together ‘highlights’ collections of notable paragraphs contained with in an atomised JISCPress/WriteToReply/Digress.it document…
As a design pattern, reading lists provide a very powerful way of leveraging the power of a community of individuals to collaboratively, yet independently, curate sets of resources. As with RSS, it may be that reading lists won’t achieve much explicit consumer success. But as wiring/plumbing – don’t underestimate them…
PS Remember, many resource centric sites allow you to create playlist feeds – e.g. Youtube Playlists, or, more recently, flickr playlists/galleries