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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.)

Graeme's picture

There's buckets of RSS feeds...

There's buckets of RSS feeds out there. Using Firefox PR1 and keeping an eye on the right side of your status bar is very revealing. As you say, more and more people are offering feeds for various things.

One interesting one for feeds if you don't want to go the whole RSS route is http://rss-to-javascript.com/ which allows you to render RSS as a Javascript include if you can't be bothered with readers and want simple web page options.

Coming in the future, I think RSS aggregators are going to pick up some steam. I've seen some really interesting stuff floating about. The first kid on the block was Meerkat (http://www.oreillynet.com/meerkat/). You can sorta roll your own using Planet (http://planetplanet.org/).

Finally for ultimate coolness you can roll your own. It's uber-nerdy :) but xml.com has an article (http://www.xml.com/pub/a/2004/09/01/hack-congress.html) on turning web pages in to feeds. The first part itself is very useful. You could RSS your Amazon wishlist for example. Then load it in to Hand/RSS (http://standalone.com/palmos/hand_rss/) and away you go.




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