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43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Living in XML?

Danny O’Brien, among others, has been noting how many nerds have started piping as much of their life as possible through personal XML feeds, using stuff like RSS and Atom.

I’m intrigued by this, but, apart from the 100 sites I read each day in NetNewsWire, I’m only dipping a toe into the world of personal RSS. I get a feed of shows my friends are attending and Netflix recommendations, but not too much more. I know there's a lot more out there.

One thing I’ve really started to love is reading comments and updates via RSS and Atom (instead of email). I think Flickr is way ahead of the curve on this one: I can get feeds of practically anything, including recent comments on my photos, recent photos by my contacts or even photos by keyword. I’d love to see the folks at LiveJournal look at something similar. It’s a brilliant way to consolidate and “bubble up” information that used to require a lot of drill-down in scattered locations. It seems like the way things are heading, to be sure.

Anyway, I’d love to hear how you are using XML feeds in ways that you find productive and cool; How have you piped your life? Not so much the typical use of feeds for blogs and news—we all know about that. But how about personal calendars, reminders, work notes, and the rest of the administrivia in your life? Was it hard to setup? Anybody keeping a private blog? Let's hear about it.

Layman’s terms and links gratefully accepted, as ever. (Also: aching for the next round of that Atom vs. RSS [.91|1|2] breakdance fight? Take it outside, Boogaloo Shrimp. We're keeping it friendly on this street. TIA.)

JoshD's picture

Oh, yeah... I should say,...

Oh, yeah... I should say, that I use that as a way of piping Usenet groups into my feedreader so that I don't need to open my newsreader just to check for new messages. And alt.devilbunnies is a massively-multiplayer online fiction writing group.

Other ways of feeding life: A mailing list that shall not be named, consisting of a number of friends scattered across a few continents, agreed on a special tag to use in flickr. Now, any member of the group puts the secret word into that tag when they upload a picture, and it gets added to the social group's special RSS feed. This obviates the need for the entire group to bother joining the service.

A Basque collective weblog has done something similar with del.icio.us: Any post to del.icio.us with "sustaturako" in the tag gets posted to the blog via the tag's RSS feed.


And finally, in LiveJournal, I've used the "Syndication" feature to create subscribable LJ feeds of various flickr and del.icio.us tags. And while LJ does have RSS feeds of all users' posts, it would indeed be very cool if you could start tagging your posts and generate feeds from that. I'll post it to the "suggestions" community.




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