Sunday, 30 March 2008

Using Google to buffer and/or archive RSS

I have ended up using both Google Reader and Netvibes to monitor RSS feeds. Google Reader is great for long-term stuff whereas Netvibes is great for monitoring what has changed recently. Netvibes also offers other functionality that I find more useful than iGoogle for generating an online desktop.

Whilst learning Chinese I have found a number of things I can monitor by RSS that yield a high number of results, many of which are of no interest but there are the occasional gems. I tend to call these type of feeds "potluck" If I have time I can always trawl through them quickly and see if there is anything that interests me. One type of feed that can yield the occasional gem via online link tagging services, just monitoring the tag for "chinese" for example can sometimes give me useful new resources. Recently I started experimenting with the public universes offered by Netvibes. I also thought it would be useful to carry out the same sort of monitoring at and sadly I discovered that like many other online services, simply and ma.gnolia just do not provide good reliable real-time RSS feeds. The result was that many times my Netvibes boxes were empty. The easiest and most elegant solution to this kind of problem was simply to ensure that those kinds of feed were collected by Google Reader and then I made the RSS public from Google Reader. Now when I look at those feeds in Netvibes they are coming from Google Reader and whilst they may not be completely up to date they are never empty (Google Reader caches the information). Of course I can also combines feed and publish them as one from Google Reader.

Thanks to the new public Netvibes service I can make some of my "pot luck" feeds public, which acts as a nice way to demonstrate how this kind of RSS usage

As an aside I have often noticed that many of the less mainstream services are not consistent with the performance of RSS feeds (and searching). At the moment I wouldn't switch from to an alternative simply because nothing else I have looked at is anywhere near so reliable.

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