Just what is a cyclic RSS feed? A cyclic RSS feed has only a certain number of entries (or “episodes” or “issues” if you want to call them that) and is designed to be read in a specific order. For example, if you were to take Moby Dick and divide it into 100 parts, and publish them all in one huge RSS feed, that would be a cyclic RSS feed. Or you might use it for a 10-part tutorial on saving time searching, or how to use the library, or something like that.
Traditional RSS feed publishers can’t handle cyclic RSS feeds because the reader will get dropped into it any old where, instead of in episode 1. Now however there’s a feed publisher — Feedcycle — that handles cyclic RSS feeds, whether you want to publish books, tutorials, or sales pitches by RSS. This is a lovely idea.
Feedcycle’s at http://www.feedcycle.com/ . If you want to see how cyclic RSS feeds can be used, check out the cloud of popular tags. You can read in cyclic format everything from Grimm’s Fairy Tales (one new tale published every two days, 61 tales total) to, no kidding, War and Peace (two chapters a day; the feed runs for six months.) Feeds can be set to release content to the reader as frequently as every 30 minutes or as infrequently as every 28 days. Aside from the fact that they’re cyclic, they work for the reader just like regular RSS feeds — chunk them in a feed reader and start reading.
When I first heard about this site I could think of a dozen ways to use it without half trying. If it’s not grabbing your imagination quite the same way, check out Feedcycle’s brief idea list for both personal and commercial applications, as well as the features list.
You’ll note when you look at the features list that this is a paid service. There are free accounts available but they do have limitations (limited items in a feed cycle, limited number of feed cycles, limited bandwidth, etc.) Service plans range from £10 to £30 a month.
I was telling a friend of mine about this service and he was a little confused as to why I was so excited. Why not, he asked, just do something like this with e-mail? It’d be a lot simpler and you could use a service like AWeber. The reason, I replied, was flexibility. Many people prefer RSS to e-mail, and it’s easier to convert an RSS feed to e-mail (via RSSFwd or a similar service) than the other way around (more secure too.)