ReadTwit and GReader – two great tastes that taste great together

04-30 peanut butter cup by FrontStudio

A while back I found readtwit (can’t recall from who, but thanks!), a service that creates an RSS feed of all the links that are posted by people in your twitter follow feed, expanding each link into the page it was actually linking to.

Now if you are like me, and follow people in your field who are passionate about what they do and share a lot of what they do, what they learn and what they find in twitter, this is a godsend. What it results in looks a lot like the below screenshot once you subscribe to it in Google Reader (or really whatever RSS Reader you like, but I am going to focus on GReader for a reason):

Readtwit in GReader

Well, so what you say- sure you have the links from twitter in GReader, but all you’ve done is shifted reading environments. Aha, just so! But shifted into one that offers better affordances for this specific use of twitter (learning and collective intelligence through link sharing.)

First off, if this is the primary way in which you approach twitter (as a social network primarily for finding new resources, it allows you to pay attention to just that. I’d suggest that this would be to not benefit from the full interaction of twitter, but for some folks that’s just fine. Indeed, in conjunction with the new ‘Lists’ functionality in twitter, this becomes a powerful way for a newcomer to subscribe to a curated list of ‘experts’ and see what they are sharing with each other (it helps too that readtwit sorts out duplicates, again reducing the noise).

But say you like spending time in twitter. What benefit then? Well, one aspect of shifting these particular tweets into a reader is that you can consume then at your own pace, and not loose them as twitter flows endlessly by. At least that is what I first thought when I subscribed. But sure enough, just as tweets flow by too quickly to “keep up” with everything, shifting to GReader doesn’t help that much. Instead I just get a feed full of too many links to follow up on.

It wasn’t until during the midst of presentation to Alec Couros’ grad school class (Elluminate recording here) on “Mashing and Remixing Open Education” that I actually realized what the REAL benefit of subscribing to the readtwit feed in GReader was. It wasn’t so that I could follow each of the links in the feed – I still will click through in twitter when I see something that is interesting, and let it flow past when I’m not there. No, the REAL benefit is that the pages in this feed GET ADDED TO MY PERSONAL FEED-FOCUSED SEARCH ENGINE.


I’m not sure how many people actually realize that GReader allows you to search across all the feeds your subscribe to (or even a specific feed). Why is this important? Because – if it’s in my feed reader it has already reached a certain level of ‘trust’ as a source for me. I’m not saying I “believe” everything in my feed reader, but the vast majority come from people who are curating their own identities/output, whose context overlaps mine to some extent (otherwise I wouldn’t be subscribing to them). Being able to see who else in my network wrote or linked to something I find is of great use for me, increases my ability to assess information 10 fold.

Anyways, try it out for yourself. It doesn’t cost anything, the worse that happens is you have a GReader feed that fills up with unread items. The best that happens is that you added another source to your growing socially filter search engine. – SWL

Google Reader – Where is your support for authenticated feeds?

The main organization I work with uses Confluence as its internal wiki platform (and possibly for blogs too, we’ll see how that progresses). I have never been in love with it as a platform but on the principle that with social software, who is using it is often more important than what they are using, I’m trying to get behind it.

But it is frustrating the heck out of me for a number of reasons. We’ve CAS‘ified Confluence, which is great for single sign-on, but it means that any ‘protected’ space now requires authentication to get the RSS feed. And honestly, a wiki without RSS feeds is a non-starter for me.

Enter Google Reader. I made the switch about a year ago and now it is fairly entrenched in my workflow. Except…Google Reader doesn’t do authenticated feeds. So now I’m faced with either switching RSS readers again (ugh) or getting daily wiki updates via email (are you serious? At least Greader could support the email-to-RSS feature like Bloglines used to, and no, the Gmail to RSS hack wouldn’t work in this case).

Frustrating. Added to that, Confluence as a blogging platform leaves a bit to be desired, and to deal it’s inelegant posting workflow (10 clicks compared to my 1 or 2 now) I am trying out some XML-RPC based clients (because it does, at least, support that through a plugin). Hence, really, the reason for this post, to see if the ScribeFire (formally Performancing) plugin for Firefox will do the trick and provide a simply, free way of posting between both my WP blog and Confluence. Wish me luck. So far the experience hasn’t been stellar, with a memory leak and other bugs plaguing what should be a simple process. – SWL

GReader Help through Trailfire

So a little more on Trailfire – I mentioned in the first post that you can set it to see ‘marks’ on any page that others have added to their own trails. I have that setting turned on, and got this pleasant surprise while in Google Reader this morning – someone had added a mark to this page with all of the Google Reader hotkeys in it, so now with a simple mouse over I get annotated help on this page. While I am not totally thrilled with where Trailfire places the tiny icons on the page indicating that a mark already exists (they sometimes obscure the content) the potential for adding in-context help to any web page or application, unfacilitated by the page owner themselves, seems quite useful, and certainly makes my learning the Google Reader hotkeys all that easier. – SWL

P.S. – Alan, thanks again for the Muntandina tracks from Magnatune; bringing a huge ray of sunshine to a grey Wet Coast day.