I’ve been an RSS “evangelist” for a couple of years now (www.bbvx.org/wp goes back to June 2005) — expecting that IE 7’s support for RSS would make it more and more important for all websites to produce RSS feeds for their content. Well, the sea change in user behavior hasn’t happened yet — and I’m still encountering folks who give me a blank stare when I say RSS, though there have been articles in the popular press and videos like “RSS in plain English” from www.commoncraft.com are helping to get the word out. There are, of course, more web sites producing RSS feeds (including www.aauw.org/rss/news.xml, yay!), but the info-sharing hasn’t yet “taken over the world”.
I took my bias towards RSS to Facebook. Even if information on Facebook can’t be posted outside its “walled garden,” it would seem useful to pull some of that syndicated information from the outside world into Facebook.
On my Facebook profile, I include information from this blog https://change.bbvx.org. That’s a basic feature of the Facebook “notes” application. You can add the address of a single blog and the items you (presumably) post there will be pulled into your Facebook notes. [There are, I think, then two separate streams of comments — your blog’s and Facebook’s.]
I’m importing another blog to Facebook using the Wordbook application. This requires installing a plugin on a WordPress blog, then “connecting” that blog to the Facebook account. New posts on the blog show up in the account’s mini feed, news feed, etc.
I tried the MyRSS application for general purpose importing of feed data to my Facebook profile — but it didn’t seem to refresh automatically, and that is, of course, the whole point. It seemed designed more as an RSS reader than as a “reposting” application — but since I read my feeds outside of Facebook, it wasn’t what I was looking for.
I’m currently using the Feed Friend RSS application to import the AAUW and AAUW NC news feeds to my profile, It seems to be working fine. One quibble is that I’m actually importing the STEM subfeed of the AAUW NC blog — but there doesn’t seem to be a way to label the feed correctly.
There are, of course, major hangups here –
- There’s no way to put RSS feeds on a group’s page. [This is just one of many applications that would be good to make available to groups, but, to my mind, it’s the most critical.] While my friends (and others, I think) can “see” the feeds on my profile and as an “available feed” if they add the Feed Friend RSS application, being able to put the feed on the group page would require much less effort for the same number of eyeballs/headline. [See, e.g., myspace.com/aauw_organization with the embedded RSS feed from aauw.org.] It would seem that providing a functionality at least like the “import notes” that’s available to individuals would recognized as valuable by the Facebook powers.
- There’s only limited info from Facebook that’s available to an external RSS reader. Yes, I can see notifications (someone sent me a message, replied to a post, etc.), but there are lots of other changes that are invisible. It’s very hard to tell when, say, a new discussion has been started in one of the groups you’ve joined. Not all “changes” to a group bump the group up in your list of recently modified groups, so we’re back to having to click through a number of groups just to see if something’s changed — shades of the awful “Please check back often” on early web sites. There’s a Facebook group looking at this issue, but it’s not clear if they’re making progress.
So… Do you have other techniques, suggestions, or applications? If so, please post here (change.bbvx.org) or on my Facebook profile under Notes.