As you probably know doing ResearchBuzz is not my real job; I love it but “love” and “pays the electric bill” are sometimes quite a ways apart.
However I have been consciously working to become more efficient in my information gathering and writing (you may have noticed that the daily ‘Buzz has been a lot more consistent since last December) and I have been trying to set aside more time to write.
That came to fruition this month when I wrote my first article in a long time. It was for IT World and it’s called
How to make a Facebook Page RSS list in 6 easy steps. You can read it here (it’s free):
If you use Facebook for resource gathering, Facebook’s throttling of how many Page posts reach fans can be very frustrating. In the article I outline a way to turn your “Liked” Facebook pages into a set of RSS feeds that you can easily monitor without worrying about what Facebook is going to decide to put in your newsfeed.
I hope you like it. And I hope I get the opportunity to write more articles like this.
Do you ever use Newswise? It’s kind of a press wire for universities, research institutions, non-profit organizations, and other groups that release what Newswise calls “knowledge-based news.” You can browse the available releases at http://www.newswise.com. I get a daily roundup of the news on the site and always find plenty of interesting releases.
Last month Newswise announced that it is making available RSS feeds for each Newswise channel. There are dozens of channels divided up into five channels; you can get the full list at http://www.newswise.com/channels/.
Take for example the diet and nutrition channel, which at this writing has 343 stories going back to December 28, 2008. You can filter the stories you see by type, date range, or institution. And the RSS feed is available at http://www.newswise.com/legacy/feed/channels.php?channel=101.
I will probably keep getting the daily digests of new releases because I am interested in everything, but if you have a particular research focus I think you’ll find these targeted RSS feeds very useful.
There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth when Bloglines, the Web-based RSS reader maintained by Ask.com, had its shutdown announced. There aren’t many solid players in the world of Web-based RSS readers (I use desktop reader myself; in fact, I use two.) Those of you who were unhappy about the shutdown will be pleased to hear that Bloglines will remain available. According to the Ask blog, the site will be taken over and maintained by MerchantCircle. Users’ feeds and login information will remain the same.
Of course, if you go to Bloglines now, you’ll see that the site will be maintained until at least December 1, after which it will transition to MerchantCircle. I’m really glad to hear this. Bloglines is a long-lived application with a very large user base, and it seemed like it would be able to find a home somewhere.
Speaking of online services that caused much alarm when they were canceled, bookmark sync service Xmarks recently announced that it too has been given a reprieve after announcing a shutdown. In this case there aren’t too many details yet and it doesn’t seem like the deal is 100% final. Stay tuned to the Xmarks blog for more information.
Yesterday was unpleasant. What I thought was a driver problem with Scooter (my main work computer) ended up being an OS meltdown that required an all-night unravel and rebuild. I had a backup, of course, but it will take some time to get everything upgraded and in place and Back the Way It Was.
There was one casualty to the meltdown — my OPML file. I thought I had backed up my RSS reader file, but I hadn’t. So I lost the list of the 650+ RSS feeds I’ve been following for the last couple of years.
Some of them are just information traps I can rebuild, but there’s no way I can remember the whole list. So I’m asking for your help.
Of course you know what ResearchBuzz is all about, so relevant feeds you know about would be great. But I’m also interested in business, demographics, marketing, and any kind of newswire. But hey, if you have an RSS feed that you think is useful or interesting I want to know about it.
There are RSS feed directories out there, I know, but I would really like some recommendations from you, the Greatest Readers on the Planet.
So if you have a top-notch, can’t-miss RSS feed you think I should know about, send it on to firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to promote your own university/library’s RSS feed(s)? Go right ahead! I would love to hear from you. You can also leave recommendations in the comments, or tweet ‘em to me @ResearchBuzz.
Thank you very much!
After I wrote the article yesterday with more resources and thoughts about information trapping, I got a couple notes from people who wanted to know how to make keyword-based Flickr RSS feeds. You have to build an URL, but it’s pretty easy. Flickr actually offers RSS for several types of searches — a full list is available at http://www.flickr.com/services/feeds/ — but I’ll give you an overview for keyword-based feeds and a couple other options.
To build a keyword-based feed, start with this URL:
Then, add ?tags=keyword to the end to find words in the tags for each picture. You can also use the comma to stack tags. For example, this URL would build an RSS feed of new Flickr photos tagged giraffe and zoo:
(That’s an actual RSS feed URL. Pop it in Google Reader, NewsGator, or whatever your preferred RSS reader is.)
Be careful about adding too many tags, though, as Flickr’s data pool is a lot smaller than, say, Google’s vast repository of Web pages.
Feeds for Flickr Groups
Maybe you don’t want to get as specific as a tag. Maybe you’d rather follow a group. You can search for Flickr Groups at http://www.flickr.com/groups/; once you find one you like (may I recommend CreativeCommons or Flickr Central?) you can get RSS feeds for them by starting with this URL:
and adding ?id=groupname to it, where groupname is, um, the name of the group. That’s where you might run into some trouble, as I couldn’t easily spot the actual group ID. I ended up using a site called http://idgettr.com/. Just enter the URL for the group and it’ll spit back an ID number. So the RSS feed for Creative Commons would be:
You’ll have to experiment some with your search terms when building RSS feeds for Flickr, but I recommend you try some of those general search terms that get you way too many results with a Web search. Flickr is huge but it’s still smaller than Google’s Web page index (I would guess) and my keyword-based Flickr feeds very, very rarely get irrelevant results. Try it!
A couple weeks ago I covered Google’s new feature that allows you to monitor pages even when they don’t have RSS feeds. A few days ago reader LP e-mailed me and asked about the new feature, “Did it work?” And I realized I had completely forgotten to write a follow-up post. So yeah, about Google Reader’s new page-monitoring feature….
The first great thing about this feature is that it taught me how many Web pages do in fact have RSS feeds. I went to several places meaning to monitor the page for pages, only to discover that RSS feeds were available now. Yay!
I did find some places that did not have RSS feeds, though; the best example is probably the Twitter lists that use Tweets from ResearchBuzz. The URL for the list is http://twitter.com/ResearchBuzz/lists/memberships but I didn’t know of any way to track when new lists were added to this page. So that was my test case for Google Reader.
Every change to the page is a new entry in Google Reader. The screenshot above shows an example of an entry. There’s no context on the page, and if I wasn’t familiar with the page content to start with, the entry wouldn’t be useful (in other words, I wouldn’t share it.)
I also tried the Google Reader with http://www.ted.com/pages/view?id=348, which is a list of upcoming TEDx events all over the world. Again, I didn’t get any context, just the line that changed.
One Google Reader update monitor I did failed. I was trying to monitor a particular business in Google Maps because I wanted to see what kind of reviews they got. I think this might be my fault, however. I looked up the business in Google, and then used the extremely-long-and-awkward URL supplied by Google as my monitoring URL. Google never got an update for that page, and complained that the page didn’t exist. I’m going to try it again using the link supplied by Google on the business’ page.
For me, the gold standard for page monitoring remains WebSite-Watcher, a client-side application available at http://www.aignes.com/. However it is for Windows only. Until it’s available for my operating system, I think I’ll keep using this new feature of Google Reader.
It’s not as nifty as a cell phone, or as amazing as street views of businesses all over the world, but to me it is big news — really big news. Google announced yesterday
that Google Reader can now be used to monitor pages for Web changes — whether they have RSS feeds or not.
Ten years after I started using RSS, it’s pretty prevalent but not universal. Google’s announcement means it’s going to be a lot easier to follow those random pages that don’t have RSS feeds for update information.
Are you already using the Google Reader for RSS feeds? Adding non-RSS content is easy. Just click on the “Add a Subscription” button and you’ll get a form into which you can paste an RSS feed URL or a regular HTML page URL. Google will ask you to confirm that you would like to create a feed to monitor based on that page.
Now, HTML pages are not RSS feeds. Their information is harder to isolate and delineate. So while the idea is that Google is going to “provide short snippets of page changes,” it’s not clear what those snippets are going to look like. Is going going to get hung up on a date change or counter change? (This has been a problem in the past with software like WebSite Watcher.) Are the snippets going to be meaningful?
I’ve added some pages to Google Reader and will revisit them in a week or so to see what kind of snippets I’m getting as results.