March 18, 2008

Interesting examples of RSS from around the Twitterverse

After a packed two-hour lecture at Napier University yesterday it was great to get chatting to some of the students afterwards in their practical seminar. What emerged was that there is so much to learn in new technologies, even for these software engineers, network analysts and business analysts, the specialists of the future. Degree courses by their (current) nature silo information so much that they can be experts in one thing, and know nothing about a potentially related technology.

For one small group, spending 20 minutes having a play with RSS feeds for the first time turned out to be a real thrill, especially since it's so much easier to manipulate than when our school was producing its first podcasts three years ago. I had great fun finally getting some more time to play with Yahoo Pipes, whose way of showing you where all your bits have come from is particularly charming.

I put out a quick Twitter 'miniblog' asking for my friends' ideas on what might constitute an 'interesting' manipulation of RSS, where the web is brought together into one place, and got the following: an eclectic bunch of RSS aggregations, single feeds and mashups. Feel free to add your own ideas in the comments below:

John Johnston provided a plethora of homemade products, from his links, which are normally pretty ugly to look at, being fed through into a prettier Tumblog, to the ScotEduBlogs aggregator, produced with Robert and Peter, which brings together educational blogs and allows users to subscribe to blogs coming from particular locations around the country. John also showed how we can take the tag of an event, for example, and create a portal around that in a few clicks: this is one for the TeachMeet07 event. Likewise, David Warlick pointed to his Hitchhikr, which aggregates information on a wide range of conferences.

Elizabeth came up with a portal around all recent things to do with the Wikinomics book, and a digital ethnography portal which would be useful for anyone trying to get under the skin of why we love these new technologies so much.

LTS and Glow colleague AB points to an app that allows YouTube homepage to be used in a flash environment, underpinned by RSS, while Will pointed to his Darfur news portal, bringing information, pictures and video from there and, at the moment, Tibet.

Finally, Caroline points out new service FriendFeed, which aggregates your life and the lives of your friends, in one page.

What are your favourite examples of RSS being used in useful ways? Let us know; I'm sure the developers of tomorrow would appreciate your tips.


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One of the blogs that I maintain is for educational, subject-based RSS feeds. It might be of interest.

I posted a series of feed related use case links to support a presentation on 'Feeding from Opencourseware' at

I'm also trying an experiment in blogging an uncourse(?!) on interactive media and computer game design, and the different category feeds mean i can create different views of the material.

eg here's the uncourse blog:

Here's a pageflakes view, powered by several feeds from the blog:

If you ever want to do a presentation based around visiting several URLs, you might find the feedshow link presenter interesting ( ) - step through each URL in a specified RSS feed. The audience can follow along if required..

PS I've been playing with twitter feeds and yahoo pipes too: - see your friends' tweets on a map; - serendipitously discover resources on youtube, slideshare, oercommons etc related to your friends tweets

Using Netvibes to bring together RSS feeds for edubloggers from around the world.
Still a manual process but I am on the lookout for something automated!

I recently used RSS to remotely update a calendar in two versions of iCal belonging to two different people.

The plan was to have news items found and bookmarked with a Ma.Gnolia bookmarlet ( would work equally as well) and have these links imported to iCal so that 2 people, in this instance, working on a podcast would know what the news stories were for that week.

Subscribing to an RSS feed from a social bookmarking service would have been fine but it was nice to be able to see the stories at a glance in iCal.

View events from a google calendar on a google map?

Last one, I promise, and I don't know how I forgot this: my RSS manifesto - "We ignore RSS at OUr Peril" -

Hi Ewan.
I just wanted to thank you for the great presentation and for spending your time to talk with us after our tutorial.

But as you speak french as good as us, je vais continuer ce commentaire en francais pour lui donner une petite touche internationale!

Merci encore d'etre venu et d'avoir partagé vos connaissances avec nous.

Bonne continuation et au plaisir de vous revoir.

Hi Ewan
AideRSS is an interesting tool worth investigating. It allows one to filter blogs.

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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