I’ve been eyeballing an ever increasing amount of web-based platforms for bringing together content (or microcontent, or nanocontent) from multiple sources, the echo again of Small Technologies (Pieces) Loosely Joined (note- if the content there is replaces by a wiki spam link, just wait until the bot resets the mess. Brian- you may want to lock this wiki??).
Previously mentioning SuprGlu and how I was somewhat Hooked On Glu. What the Glu does is allow you to create a public page that aggregates content you select from multiple sources (as long as the sources provide RSS feeds) into one nicely presented web page view. the “tools” for doing this are wonderfully simple, and it took literally minutes for me to create my first Glu’d site.
This is pretty much a tool for creating public views of aggregated content, what here I am calling “Outward” Aggregating. Bloglines sort of straddles this line by creating a person’s collection of RSS syndicated sites, but provides a URL for sharing publicly.
There is emerging a different suite of tools, and ones that bear the nifty interface of AJAX code. For some time I have been using Google’s “Personalized” Home that allows you to add new info sources to a personalized page, choosing from a small set of existing Feed sources and weather, as well as a window into your Gmail account. You easily Add COntent via a sidebar that scoots in when called, and on the page, the AJAX interface allows you to re-arrange the content blocks at whim.
I’ve been using this for a number of months as the home page on all my computers. Heck this is really just a new variation or Son of Yahoo, or maybe the Second Coming of Portals, but this is pretty light weight stuff, with all kinds of sources to choose from.
But other folks have been creating new modules for the Google Home Page (I think it is just bits of XML), and are now being collected in a new Google Modules site, which is expanding every day. You simply select a service, click “Add Module”, and it redirects you to your own Google page, and provides the cut and past URL for a feed that goes into the Add Content area (ok, I really need to buy a copy of Camtasia so I can screencast this stuff). You get some sort of warning from Google about using outside code, but I clicked through the luke warm warnings.
I already had a few site RSS Feeds here, my own blog feed, the weather for Phoenix and Pine, AZ. But I just added to my Google page a display of one of my flickr photos (random on each page view), my del.icio.us links, a Creative Commons content search box, and a dynamic display for our web site’s stats from Alexa:
Now that is getting very handy indeed, and might have me click the old Home button a bit more. I’d prefer to have a flickr feed of my recent photos (like the RSS syndnication tools it provides).
But I cannot share this with anyone as a link- I am merely aggregating my stuff (or other’s stuff) from various sources, into my personalized display. This is pretty much what I am calling “Inward” aggregating.
In a similar vein is NetVibes (thanks to a tip via Gardner) which somewhat parallels Google’s approach with a simple tool editor, the AJAX display and flexibility, but there are some interesting differences:
The GMail interface is better here since it has a toggle visibility to list the 5 most recent message sin your inbox (each hyperlinked). NetVibes has its own tool for adding your flickr photos, with flexibility for what is displayed, and how ti is displayed (slide show or icons). It has a built in tool for listing documents available in your Writely account. The Web Search widget offers you a choice of Google, IceRocket, Yahoo, and WikiPedia. The display of RSS feeds provides an icon to refresh the display (note to Stephen Downes, EDU_RSS is not accessible as it does not validate). There is also a “NotePad” feature where you can write anything.
I do find this interesting, a single page that is pulling content from sources I choose, not what Yahoo gives me, not what Blackboard gives me, not what MSN gives me. And it pulls them from many sources very efficiently.
The other thing I am thinking more about is the use of space, and navigation features that are certainaily beyond HTML tables and static display. One of my goals next year is to get my head more into the AJAX jar.
So while the old song RipMixFeed still sounds good, we ought to be thinking along with that the perspectives on how the collected stuff is viewed. There are different needs and reasons for going Inward or Outward in your aggregating.