I clearly do not have enough to do, so I updated the RSS feeds offered by growlers.org. Specifically, I created a composite feed that takes the last three entries from any of the content that I create anywhere on the web, and outputs an integrated feed.
This is a very important thing, and, for some reason, is not as simple as you would think.
Here's the problem: The rise of the social networks has created a set of highly interconnected, but functionally discrete webs, rather than a single web. This is because each social network requires you to save your data on their servers, where it is most easily accesible to users of that social network. Thus, if I update something on flickr, others within my network on flickr will find out about it - but what if it is of interest to someone who knows me, but happens to only use del.icio.us, or even worse, myspace?
Well, I could duplicate the information at all of these sites, or I could tell everyone to subscribe to an ever increasing set of rss feeds from every place that I create content on the net, but that is a very time consuming system for someone (me, even), and this is the future: The computers are supposed to do that sort of time-consuming thing.
So what I really need is an all-encompassing RSS feed that I can tell people about, or even better yet, target at places around the web where I create content. (RSS feeds, by the way, are a way of allowing people to subscribe to almost any frequently updated content on the web. If you use a google or yahoo homepage, the different feeds that you subscribe to are likely produced in RSS. RSS is not really meant for humans to read, but rather for machines to translate so that humans can keep up-to-date with the enormous amount of information produced everyday on the internet.)
I looked around for services that would take a set of feeds, but they were, without exception, lacking in the fine-grained control that I wanted: the ability to limit the number of items from each feed, the ability to fully integrate the feeds with the latest information first, the ability to indicate where each feed comes from...
In addition, there is the problem of displaying a integrated feed in myspace. Now, I am no fan of myspace - it is clunky (although it can be hacked to be better), and ugly (although it can be hacked to be better), and not particularly user friendly if you are having a discussion (although, I suppose, it can be hacked to be better) - but, as it turns out, that is where many of my real (as opposed to virtual), live (as opposed to possibly living), human (as opposed to android) friends spend their time online (thank you, Rupert Murdoch!). Myspace breaks everything good and AJAXy about the internet (while remaining steadfastly flash-o-philic) apparently because twelve-year-olds can be malicious (and they lie about their ages!).
So, I rolled my own solution. Thanks to Magpie RSS, a few lines of code in PHP, and an XSL stylesheet solution from xefteri.com, there is now an integrated and extendable (by me) RSS feed for everything iceberg273 on the web (except for the myspace stuff, which is behind a login, but (1) there's nothing there and (2) thanks to this feed, there never will be).
There was the small issue of Mozilla not disabling HTML-escaping via XSLT, but I fixed that by %breaking the XSL stylesheet%, which causes Mozilla to use its internal stylesheet, which ^does not escape HTML^. Otherwise, yay, straightforward.
Also, I found a thing (yay, Rupert Murdoch!) that converts RSS feeds to flash, so now I can put the RSS feed on myspace and forget about it. Again, with the yay!
Monday, June 4th, 2007