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A mini-toolbox of RSS tricks

At the May PrISM meetup, there were a number of questions and suggestions around the use of RSS to integrate content across online and social media streams, so for the June meetup today, I’m doing a show-and-tell overview of several tools that can make that kind of integration more efficient and effective:

  1. Feedburner, now owned by Google, is a service that adds useful features to existing feeds.  When you “burn” a feed — that is, submit it to Feedburner for reprocessing — you can then select from a huge menu of features that you  can then add to the “burned” feed, including:
    • Publication options, such as Headline Animator (an embeddable widget), BuzzBoost (embeddable HTML of your feed), an email subscription option, and Socialize (auto-posting from the feed to Twitter)
    • Optimization options, including adding instant republication links to each feed entry for users, automatically interspersing a stream of delicious.com tags into your feed, or adding a branding image to your feed items
    • Metrics, including analysis of number of feed subscribers, item mentions and click-throughs, and even geographic analysis of item use.
  2. RSSMix is one of a number of services that performs a simple but useful function: it allows you to combine multiple RSS feeds into a single feed, for easy combined republication through a widget or other device.
  3. FeedRinse allows you to create and republish a filtered version of a feed. With FeedRinse, you can specify Your “rinsed” (filtered) feed can include (or exclude) any items from the original feed that include a certain keyword or tag, or were written by a particular author.
  4. Feed43, Page2RSS and Ponyfish are all services that allow you to create a feed to follow a site that doesn’t offer its own feed, or doesn’t offer it in a useful format.  Page2RSS is the most basic, simply monitoring the page for any changes, while Ponyfish allows you to identify the sections of the page you wish to monitor, and Feed43 is the most challenging to set up but offers the most control over the feed output.
  5. Yahoo! Pipes is the most powerful RSS utility I know.  It can be used to do all of the things offered by the above services (except possibly Feedburner), plus much, much more — it’s essentially a programming environment for manipulating online data feeds.  Creating your own original pipes can require investment of a little time to learn the tool, but many Pipes users share the pipes they have created for others to copy and adapt, so it’s often possible to build on others’ expertise.
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