Tag Archives: OPML

Making magazine awards more user-friendly

Given I’ve already linked to Tony Hirst twice this week I thought I’d make it a hat-trick. Last month Tony wrote two blog posts which I thought were particularly instructive for magazine publishers organising blog awards.

In the first post Tony complained after seeing Computer Weekly’s shortlist:

“Why, oh why, don’t publishers of blog award nomination lists see them as potentially useful collections on a particular subject that can be put to work for the benefit of that community?

“… There are umpteen categories – each category has it’s own web page – and umpteen nominations per award. To my mind, lists of nominations for an award are lists of items on a related topic. Where the items relate to blogs, presumably with an RSS feed associated with each, the lists should be published as an OPML file, so you can at-a-click subscribe to all the blogs on a list in a reader such as Google Reader, or via a dashboard such as netvibes. Where there are multiple awards, I’d provide an OPML file for each award, and a meta-bundle that collects nominations for all the awards together in a single OPML file, though with each category in its own nested outline element.”

I’d suggest something even more simple: an aggregator widget pulling together the RSS feeds for each category, or a new Twitter account, or a Google Reader bundle.

In a second post the following day Tony finds a further way to extract value from the list: use Google Custom Search to create a custom search engine limited to those sites you have shortlisted as award-worthy. His post explains exactly how to do that.

Tony’s approach demonstrates the difference between story-centred and data-centred approaches to journalism. Computer Weekly are approaching the awards as a story (largely because of limitations of platform and skills – see comments), with the ultimate ending ‘Blog publisher wins award’. Tony, however, is looking at the resources being gathered along the way: a list of blogs, each of which has an RSS feed, and each of which will be useful to readers and journalists. Both are valid, but ignoring either is to miss something valuable in your journalism.

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Sharing your Google Reader subscriptions with bundles

Google Reader’s ‘Bundles’ feature – which allows you to share a selected collection of your subscriptions in a range of ways – has been around for 10 months now, but as I’m asking my students this week to use it, I thought I’d blog a quick how-to and why-to. Continue reading

This year’s reading list – an OPML file

In addition to the usual reading list I give to students on the new MA Online Journalism, I also provide an OPML file of around 50 RSS feeds they should be subscribing to – broadly, 5 feeds each in 10 categories.

I thought I should make it available here, so: here it is.

The idea is that a) they get instant access to up-to-date news and analysis of a range of relevant areas; and b) it introduces them to the concept of RSS, if they don’t already know about it, and how to share OPML files.

It seems a no-brainer that we should be doing this on all courses.

Oh, and if you think there are better feeds, let me know.

Best RSS feeds for information graphics – in one lovely OPML file

There’s a great list of RSS feeds for infographics news over at Nicholas Rapp’s blog, which I’ve belatedly discovered. It’s thoroughly recommended – but copying and pasting them all into your reader is a bit of a chore – so I’ve created an OPML file of them all which you can import in one graceful motion.

Here’s the OPML file

And here’s how you get those feeds into Google Reader (the process should be pretty similar in other RSS readers): Continue reading

3 weeks in: launching a Midlands environmental news site

3 weeks ago my class of online journalism students were introduced to the website they were going to be working on: BirminghamRecycled.co.uk – environmental news for Birmingham and the West Midlands.

The site has been built by final year journalism degree student Kasper Sorensen, who studied the online journalism module last year.

In building and running the service Kasper has done a number of clever, networked things I thought I should highlight. They include:

  • Creating a Delicious network for the site – every journalist in the team has a Delicious account; this gathers together all of the useful webpages that journalists are bookmarking
  • Tweetgrid of all journalists’ tweets – again, every journalist has a Twitter account. This pulls them all together.
  • Twitter account @bhamrecycled
  • Kasper sent the whole team an OPML file of subscriptions to RSS feeds of searches for every Midlands area and environmentally related keywords. In other words, journalists could import this into their Google Reader and at a stroke be monitoring any mention of certain key words (e.g. ‘pollution’, ‘recycling’) in Birmingham areas.
  • He also shared a Google calendar of relevant events

The site itself is clever too.

  • The About page has a list of all contributing journalists with individual RSS feeds.
  • In addition, each author has a link to their own profile page which not only displays their articles but pulls Twitter tweets, Delicious bookmarks and blog posts.

Kasper wanted to explicitly follow a Mashable-style model rather than a traditional news service: he felt an overly formal appearance would undermine his attempts to build a community around the site.

And community is key. When unveiling the site to the journalists Kasper made the following presentation – a wonderful distillation of how journalists need to approach news in a networked world: