Monthly Archives: June 2002

Web Gadgets for News Junkies

Web Gadgets for News Junkies

“Finding what you want on the Internet is only part of the problem. The other part is keeping up. I've got bookmarks galore in my Web browser, so many that working through them on a daily basis is all but impossible. What I need is a way to download my Net reading automatically, clustering each item by topic in a single desktop program.

This is where RSS (Rich Site Summary) software comes in. Techies call what these programs do 'content aggregation.' Available in free and commercial versions, RSS programs let you choose news sources and arrange them by topic, with automated, adjustable downloading of the latest stories so you're always current….

The model of content aggregation has changed dramatically over the past few years. From centralized news gathering on Web portals, we're moving to a flexible, decentralized model open to alternative forms of content. In my own work, I keep up with many Weblog writers whose commentary often rivals more conventional sources in quality and isn't tamed by corporate constraints.

But I want to mix those insights with solid reporting from the wire services and industry publications. I'm after the kind of overview that comes from seeing how a wide variety of sources interpret the same facts. That's hard to achieve online, but RSS software filters out the noise, making it a serious option for Net-minded newshounds.” [Nando Times, via Fagan Finder Blog, via Library Stuff]

Amen, hallelujah, and pass the salt! This is a good overview of why you want RSS in your life, a complement to Steven's article that goes into more depth (another good electronic handout). And the author is right that it's the fact that I get to choose the links (the mix of capital “J” Journalism, little “j” journalism, flotsam, jetsam, and favorites) that's the key.

Here's the thing, though. I need a second generation aggregator, like, yesterday. I need to be able to filter my aggregator the way I do my email, and today was a perfect example of that. I need to be able to send every post with the word “Worldcom” or “pledge” into a trash folder. Oy vey already.  [The Shifted Librarian]

RSS Tutorial

RSS Tutorial.

Publish and Syndicate Your News to the Web

“In this workshop you'll learn how to create, validate, syndicate, and view your own RSS news channel. The emphasis will be the practical application of RSS XML/RDF metadata for dynamically publishing….” [via Serious Instructional Technology]

Now this is an excellent resource! Put up by the Government Information Locator Service (GILS) folks in Utah, this one-page tutorial gives a brief overview of RSS, what it looks like, aggregators (they call them “viewers”), how to locate feeds, how to create your own feeds, how to validate your RSS, and more.

I'm not sure what impresses me the most – the link to Metabrowser (their “recommended tool for creating and editing UtahGILS and Dublin Core metadata”), their Metabrowser tutorial, the reminder about David Carter-Tod's Javascript code for embedding an RSS feed in a web page, that they're doing RSS with meta tags, or that it's the library folks doing it!

I r-e-a-l-l-y need to get these people to talk to the folks at the Illinois State Library so that they'll understand my vision of news aggregation for Illinois libraries.  [The Shifted Librarian]

Internet As Library

Internet As Library.

Will sends along a special excerpt from The Broadband Difference: How Online Americans’ Behavior Changes with High-speed Internet Connections at Home (PDF):

“In sum, emailing and information searching are most popular among broadbanders. This is not too surprising, since most Americans view the Internet as an information resource like a library. When asked what the Internet is like, 51% of all Americans in the Pew Internet Project's March 2002 survey likened it to a library and no other alternative metaphor such as 'meeting place' or 'shopping mall' comes close to that symbol of what the Internet is.”

[The Shifted Librarian]

Instant Messaging And Outlook

Instant Messaging And Outlook. Fun With 'bots

“Thought: Set the bot with security such that it will only give certain answers to people that you have on a list. For example, you would have it set to tell a close friend where you were, or give out your cell number in case they had lost it, but it would not hand this out to complete strangers. It could also pester you with reminders form your appointment book, or to do list, or even take short messages from your friends (if they knew the keywords to get it started).

Example:

Friend: hey! Where is Jane?
AIMbot: (checks name against list of trusted folks) Jane is on her way to work.
Friend: Leave Message?
AIMbot: Handjive? (checking for the password to alow this functionality)
Friend: Annabobanna
AIMbot: Go ahead.
Friend: Meet you at Phil's restaurant after work, 6ish, k?
AIMbot:…
AIMbot:…
AImbot:… Will that be all?
Friend: Yup, later!
AIMbot:Goodbye

Then, when the user goes online later, the bot lets them know that there are messages waiting. Since AIMbot only records messages from people that you allow, and if you want, only form those who know the password (as above).” [Ryan Greene's Radio Weblog]

Ryan pushes back on my post about rolling our own library bots. His scenario would be particularly interesting if the bot could interact with the copy of Outlook running on your PC. Then it could tell your friend that you're already busy that night but could suggest tomorrow night.

For libraries, it'd be great if a patron could query a registration database for programs, especially those with limited seating. For example, a person could register this way, find out if they're registered, get an IM reminder, or cancel a registration. You should be able to query the calendar for specific events, too (for example, type in “book club” and find out when the next discussion is and what title they're reading). If you could send vCalendar entries through IM, one click would add an event to your calendar.  [The Shifted Librarian]

Scripting News

Welcome back, Dave:  “OK, here's the deal. I did not have a heart attack, but it was close. I had bypass surgery, which I am now recovering from. It was my fault — I had classic warning signs that I ignored. No family history of heart disease. Most important — I wanted to keep smoking. The numbers are good if I quit smoking. If I don't the numbers are totally awful.”  [Scripting News]