I enjoy the idea of a personal newsfeed since the time of myYahoo!. Even earlier, actually, for I recall the first personal newspage was done in Excite. Who remembers it? When RSS and blogs were beginning to get popular, myYahoo! allowed members to incorporate the feeds they liked; the idea of a personalized central webpage for each of us was thus stretched a little further: “official” feeds from news agencies and informal blogs on the same page. At the same time, of course, other tools began emerging which allowed the aggregation of various feeds on the same page or tool, for easier reading and tracking. Bloglines.com, was one of the first and best designed. I began using that. More opened up, till netvibes did the same revolution myYahoo! had done a decade earlier. Easy composition on one page of feeds, email, notes, the weather, and what else. I love it: it really gives me a start for the day. All my favorite feeds in one neat page. I can move around the feed-containing blocks, also; expand them. Suprglu (piecing your web together) is a similar and very powerful concept, based on the same assumption of an all-encompassing RSS standard. Everything gets feed-ized and syndicated, email, stock variations, photo flows and literature. I am really impressed.
So I got an idea: surely not really my idea, but like all powerful ideas, this idea was in the making for a long while, by many people, at roughly the same time. I began thinking, from a blogger perspective, on what I needed to do to publish myself a mix of the feeds I enjoyed reading. Of course, with the full reference to authors and their respective source, their blog. I wanted something (without programming it myself) that allowed to take a few feeds and republish them together in one page for the world to read. Of course, there are publishing and ethical issues, but I decided to let them wait (with some help from creativecommons). Also, I run the risk of offending authors by putting them close to one another in the first place, don’t I.Â These issues I’ll explore later, perhaps writing to each author and asking their forgiveness, or better, permission.
So I started playing around with free tools which could do the job well. Neither bloglines, nor netvibes allow to republish a feed of feeds, it seems to me. However, they allow to export the description (an XML file) of one’s feeds (the famous metafeed itself) in a convenient XML format for outlines, OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language). This resulted very useful with feedraider.com. Feedraider allows to do exactly what I need. I only have to feed it my list of feeds, and it feeds the feeds (…!) onto a neat page accessible by everybody! This is what I accomplished: The all-united web::educat10n JRNL: http://feedraider.com/u/avunque/p/a66jq/. From that very page I can also easily generate a feed-of-feeds, or an embed code to integrate the publication inÂ a webpage or in a blog. Here is the (first draft) of JRNL embedded in a page of my blog.
I was suddenly upgrading myself to the self-appointed position of editor-in-chief of an important publication! What about my fortunate, if unaware, authors-collaborators?
Another tool I came up with is atiki. At atiki, the social feed mixer, things are also very simple. Just feed it the feeds and voilÃ¡, it creates the all-new feed-of-feeds our readers need. Check out mine here: http://www.atiki.com/feed-976.
What about adding the generated feed in a side column, and not as a full page? In this case, after working out the feed-of-feeds (RSS), one only needs a little tool called… actually not named at all, which will format the RSS for your purposes: http://feeds.theblogresource.com/build.php. Here, just enter the URL of the generated RSS feed and it will produce the neat HTML for your side column, like here.
How many feed-of-feeds do we have out there? Do they serve a real purpose, or just the ego of their creators? For the time being, I shall say I believe they do, at least informally. Their power is in the automatism. The editor only chooses the feeds (but also their ordering and the number of posts) to be mixed up and published. The rest, their actual getting published, updated, pulled from their blog source is fully automatic. So, welcome to self-metapublishing!
And welcome to (the first draft of) web::educat10n JRNL!