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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Looking for the right RSS mixer

This is a bit of a geeky post. And I realise that there are not many people in my universe who know what the hell I'm going on about. But I guess that's the advantage of saying it on a blog ... there is someone out there!

In my learning community, CPsquare, John Smith of Learning Alliances starts thinking about aggregating the blogs of all the members in CPsquare so that there is one container for all the feeds. This ties in with something else I've been thinking about for another community and so I decided to have a play.

First, what's the advantage of having one container for all the feeds? It means that anyone in the community can have just one feed (in their feed-reader) which subscribes them to the feeds of all the members of a community they belong to. It's a great way of getting a feel for who community members are and it's also reassuring to know that people in your community have a greater chance of finding your blog. After all, it's usually them you are at least partially writing for. Of course, if each individual member's feed was also tagged, then it could be a wonderful networking tool.

So I followed up on Marshall Kirkpatrick's links to RSS Mixers on Cogdogblog to get a feel for what some RSS mixers are like. They are all very different, with these being some of the main differences:
  • you only get a link to a feed vs. you generate a feed plus a page with the links (e.g. like Superglu);

  • you have to put the links in one at a time v. you can put the links in in one batch;

  • you just enter the feed URL v. you also enter the name and type of blog etc.

  • the RSS mixer has an inelegant/geeky appearance vs. it has a less than inelegant appearance.

  • For the RSS mix experiment I used the following members' blogs:
    John Smith, Learning Alliances
    Edward Vielmetti, Vacuum
    Andy Roberts, Distributed Action Research
    Nancy White, Full Circle Online Interaction
    Shawn Callahan, Anecdote
    Bev Trayner, Em Duas Línguas

    And these were the notes I took when I tried to set up an RSS aggregator for those blogs:

    + gives a feed and a webpage - see experiment RSS mix webpage;
    - viewing all blog entries (especially when there are many) as a webpage can be overwhelming;
    - can add one feed at a time (or all via OPML, if you know how to);
    - always gives error message first time you enter feed, so you have to go back and do it again

    + very simple - put in all the feeds and get out one feed;
    - asks for information you're not sure about so can be confusing;
    + quick
    This was the experiment feed.

    - ads right in your face
    - can only add five feeds max.
    - can only add one feed at a time
    - annoying set of questions to answer and categories to put yourself in
    - gave up because at the end I forgot to put in my email address and it wanted me to start the whole process again

    RSS mix
    + very simple to use;
    + you can put all the feeds in at once
    - BUT maximum of four feeds only!
    However, you can make a new feed mix from your existing mix. That means you can keep mixing the feed mixers until you get everyone in one feed!
    Here's the experiment feed mix with four. And it also creates a webpage.

    lazytom's FeedJumbler
    puts all the feeds into one feed - here was the link it generated for the experiment.
    + easy to use
    + you can enter all the feeds in one go.
    + easy to subscribe this new feed in your feed reader (i.e. has the usual feed-reader links right there for you)
    - includes lots of info. that most people won't want.
    - needs a good makeover.

    + it has a bookmarklet making it easier to put in feeds;
    + you can tag the feeds;
    - you have to enter each link individually;
    - it got beyond the bounds of my patience to see how to get the link!
    I had the idea that it's more for organising your own feeds and having them tagged (which seems like a great idea). I just couldn't find the generated link (getting tired by now).

    only gave errors

    + neat interface
    + easy to use
    + you can enter feeds in batches
    This was the feed it generated for the experiment.

    Wishlist for an RSS mix:

    By now I was getting the general idea and didn't look at any further. But there must be others. Someone somewhere must be designing an RSS mix:
  • for large communities,

  • where it's easy to enter feeds in one batch,

  • where you can tag the feeds,

  • where members can upload/update/tag their own and others' feed,

  • which is visually agreeable/ not too geeky.

  • Let me know if you know one!

    Tags: , ,


    Blogger Wein said...

    Did you give FeedJumbler a shot? I've used it for a few mixed feeds. But not sure if it's what you're looking for. Let me know if it works well for you.

    8/02/2006 08:22:00 PM  
    Blogger bev trayner said...

    Thanks wein, yes I did. It's reviewed there under lazytom's FeedJumbler.

    8/02/2006 08:46:00 PM  
    Blogger mp said...

    Hi Bev,

    I've tried a few, and the one that serves me well is Feedblender ( althought it does not respond by itself to the tags options you would like (you could import the resulting blended feed and use a tag cloud software ;-)

    For the projects i've been working it's working but then again i think the most important part is not blending the feeds but thinking how they will be displayed in the community.

    Major steps for me is introducing this in the organizational flow... and not so many people to talk with.

    Thanks for bringing this up

    8/06/2006 09:43:00 AM  
    Blogger rickdog said...

    Here's 16 mixers in my


    Check out xFruits.

    8/11/2006 05:53:00 AM  
    Blogger Ideum said...

    You may want to try RSS Mixer:

    7/24/2007 09:52:00 PM  
    Blogger Joitske said...

    Hi Beverly, I'm looking for a feedmixer now, so thanks for documenting this! feedshaker doesn't seem to exist any longer..

    10/05/2009 09:41:00 AM  
    Blogger bev trayner said...

    Hi Joitske... It's a reminder of how many start-ups have come and gone in the last few years. (Glad it was helpful)

    10/06/2009 12:03:00 AM  

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