August 17, 2004
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Rip. Mix. Feed. How?
Apple had the perhaps now ill-fated "Rip, Mix, Burn" concept for music-- I am looking for something similar (less lawyer intensive) for RSS feeds. It is taking feeds breaking them apart, and rebuilding them into something new. We can rebuild 'em. Stronger. Faster. The Six Million Dollar Feed....
So it goes:
- Rip a few RSS URLs from where ever you find 'em these days.
- Mix them together into a pile.
- Feed them back as a brand new RSS.
During an ichat yesterday with Brian when he asked for tools that would take a list of RSS Feed URLs and be able to combine them into one "uber" feed with its own RSS feed. I suggested that they could create their own Bloglines site, but Brian mentioned people wanting a new RSS feed to deploy elsewhere.
I can see programmatically how it would go. You can take each RSS, parse it into a big array, and then re-code that back as a new RSS feed. But who's got extra time to code? There ought to be somethings out there that do this (and I know there are). It is pretty much what Stephen Downes does with EDU_RSS, but how do mere mortal teachers take a list of feeds and munge them into something new?
Off to Google I went. I found a reference to a service at Feedster for what they call "FeedPaper"
A Feedpaper is a dynamic newspaper created from information gathered from across the web. Feedpapers can be displayed as part of the now.feedster.com web site or as part of your own web site. Here's an example:
You're heavily interested in the upcoming American presidential race.
You want to be able to see information from a number of different RSS feeds in one place -- your very own Feedpaper.
You want to feature this information on your own website as a tool to bring more visitors to your blog or site.
Not overly impressed with the moniker or metaphor, I gave it a whorl. I tried to create a FeedPaper with a few URLs for feeds from known Learning Object Repositories with RSS feeds (thanks to ones collected by Scott Leslie). I waited the requisite 5 minutes (as well as 5 hours).
You're feedpaper has been saved. Sometime in the next five to ten minutes it can be viewed at this url:
My provided URL much later still returns:
Unable to retrieve filename for latest feedpaper version
For that matter, the root site for all FeedPapers list a bunch of empty items and even the ones listed have no content. Worse, the Feedpaper I created never shows up when I try from MyFeedster to Edit myFeedpaper. Even worse, I have not gotten any Feedback from Feedster.
Strike 1. FeedPaper = ToiletPaper.
Rollup sounded like a maybe, but its service appears "suspended".
Moving on, I tried Blogdigger Groups, which while listed as beta, looked more promising:
Blogdigger Groups allows you to create group blogs using any blog that has an RSS feed. Once you specify the members of your group, you will be able to view the most recent posts, filter by blog and category, even export your group in OPML or OCS, or subscribe to your group as an RSS feed.
This looked promising. I created a group, added some RSS feeds from Learning Object sites, and had very quickly a combined site for Syndicated Learning Objects
with its own new RSS feed:
not to mention OPML. It appears that you can apply some keyword filters, e.g. fro the combined pile of feeds, just see the ones with "Science" but I could not see any differerence in output.
SHAZAM! We have a winner! Slam Dunk! The score: Blogdigger Groups 7, Feedster..... 0.
Maybe. Might need to come back in a few days and see how it is updated.
blogged August 17, 2004 05:33 PM
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Hi, I'm Greg, from Blogdigger; thanks for the kind words about Blogdigger Groups, I'm glad you found it useful. As you mentioned, Groups is still in beta, and in need of some obvious improvements but we are hoping to get the newer version out relatively soon. The filtering is currently disabled (apologies), it will be working in the new version.
One new feature I'm working on is a Groups alias; for example: http://groups.blogdigger.com/athens2004. If you would like, I can put an alias in for your Group, just send me an email and let me know what you would like to use. And I'd love to get any other feedback, we're always looking for ideas!
You're definitely right -- Feedpapers are powerful but they aren't real time enough and we need to fix that. Your input is actually quite timely (since I'm working on them now) and I'll let you know status shortly.
Scott (Yes I write Feedster code and I'm responsible for many of its flaws ;-) ).
I'm Carmen, from Timsoft-eLearning Romania - http://www.timsoft.ro.
I found Alan's blog ( and of course the entire weblog ) and comments very interesting.
I also appreciate Blogdigger's facilities and am waiting for the Feedpapers news.
My intentions in using Blogdigger Groups are:
:: a ( private ) group for the online courses moderated by a facilitator; at Timsoft, we have developed a VLE called eLearnTS; each virtual space has its own RSS, collecting the new messages and the facilitator's announcements; it's a private RSS feed ( URL specified by: http://username:password@address ); Blogdigger doesn't recognise such a RSS feed; neither Bloglines; we use Serence KlipFolio ( http://www.serence.com ), which is a desktop RSS Reader, but it displays each RSS separately;
:: a group for Learning Objects/Resources specified by RSS-LOM feeds - such an example is http://www.timsoft.ro/aux/ex-rss-lom3.xml ( see Stephen Downes - http://www.downes.ca/xml/RSS_LOM.htm ); a group of RSS-LOMs would be useful, especially when the filters will be available; even if Blogdigger adds such RSS-LOM files to the group, it doesn't display the corresponding items.
I would appreciate your feedback on grouping these RSS variants.
Thanks for visiting from Romania.
I doubt any "expertise" I have may help, but since your feeds are apparently very specialized, it sounds like to me you may have to develop or program your own aggregator.
To use these tools, your RSS feeds must have XML with the equivaleints if item -> title, item -> link, item -> description which I do not really see in ones such as http://www.timsoft.ro/aux/ex-rss-lom3.xml
so it is no surprsie standard tools cannot do much with the data. Just because something is XML does NOT mean that any RSS tool can process it.
Depending on which programing tools are available (PHP, JSP, ASP, perl) you can likely find existing libraries that can help convert the XML to some sort of data set (array) and then re-purpose the output.
Wish I had something more specific.
You are definitely moving in the right direction, and I am all for supporting whoever else senses the relevance of this for our future.
I have made a short news post (http://tinyurl.com/3dkdy) to provide a few suggestions in relation to other tools that can be used to do this newsmastering task and I have been eagerly looking up to companies that wanted to take this challenge seriously, as the opportunity for a great killer app is all there to be tapped.
Unfortunately they are all sleeping on it.
From Technorati to Six Apart, Feedster, PubSub, Bloglines and many others, not one has been able to attack, understand and prototype an RSS news mixing Web application like we really need.
My bet is that the one that will do this first and best, will have great profit-making opportunities for a long time to come. Many business models can be built around this, while leaving open to its natural free flow the core basic content that blogs originate.
Keep it up and come by to get your free complimentary NewsMasters Toolkit. You and Brian deserve one!
Am not sure if you have seen Feedburner or not, http://www.feedburner.com/fb/a/home but it too allows you to combine RSS feeds into a single feed. I set one up to combine my Flickr posts with my weblog...
Oh and thanks for the Blogger post... Lots of good information to help me plan for a class.
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