Feed Mashups

I just can’t seem to say enough about feeds. Feeds enable us to work more efficiently, yet most people don’t know a thing about them. In fact, in a Yahoo! white paper entitled “RSS-Crossing into the Mainstream,” it was reported that awareness of RSS is quite low among Internet users. 12% of users are aware of RSS and 4% have knowingly used RSS.

But here’s an interesting observation: 27% of Internet users consume RSS syndicated content without even knowing it! Yes, that might be you! For instance, when you personalize your iGoogle or Yahoo! start page, that’s RSS-enabling technology. My Yahoo! apparently has the highest awareness and use of any RSS-enabled product.

So, again, why do we use RSS? To do less work! Yes, that’s the answer. Well . . . actually RSS can bring a lot of material to us, but we can decide if we want to read/listen/look at it or not.  Here’s another statistic that is not too inspiring–71% of men are “aware RSS users,” while only 29% of women are. Hm . . . what does this mean?

Younger users are more aware of RSS than older and college graduates/some graduate or post-graduate degree people are more aware of RSS than those with lesser degrees.

If you use feeds (and you SHOULD)l then I want to tell you about how to get even more creative and selective with them. You can use Yahoo! Pipes to create a customized feed. This really cool tool allows you to filter and process RSS feed data ina chain, using a web graphical user interface. The results can be presented in a variety of formats that can then be viewed in your RSS reader, on your blogs, in a Greasemonkey script, or even as the building blocks of more complex pipes.

This is an awesome tool, and I highly recommend trying it out. Here’s one way of using it that I thought of:

Say that you are having your students write blogs for your class and you want all of the students to read each others’ blogs. Instead of providing them with 20 URLs of each student’s blog, use Yahoo! Pipes to consolidate those blogs into one feed. (Of course, you will need to use the feed URL, not the web URL to create your custom feed.) Then provide your students with one feed for all of the blogs. It’s pretty quick and easy to do, once you get the hang of using Yahoo! Pipes.

Here’s a great tutorial on how to use Yahoo! Pipes (because it does take some getting used to) : http://mrspeaker.webeisteddfod.com/2007/02/10/yahoo-pipes/ 

Also, Yahoo! Pipes has tutorial videos you can watch. You’ll start thinking about all sorts of feeds you might want to create, such as blogs about podcasting, for example. Take some time and look at this really cool tool.

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