BlogBridge Feed Library in an Academic Environment

I've been experimenting with a copy of BlogBridge Feed Library, to test it out for possible deployment for use by students and faculty here at UCalgary. It's not an official project, but I think it's important enough to warrant investigation. What is BlogBridge Feed Library (BBFL)? From their website: Feed Library (FL) creates a flexible web based structure to showcase Feeds, Reading Lists and Podcasts to employees in your company, or members of your organization. It will be the 'store' where users can browse and search for recommendations of content to read with their Aggregators. And, here's the important point: these are recommendations by people in your organization for people in your organization. It's a directory. Of feeds. That can be distributed across the internets, and organized in any fashion. It's been running the Expert Guides section of Blogbridge's website for several months, and has provided a pretty cool resource for finding and subscribing to feeds. It's very cool, in that it doesn't try to do too much. It doesn't pretend to be an aggregator. It's just a directory. It provides friendly ways to preview feeds right in the directory, and to subscribe to groups of feeds via OPML representing folders within the directory. Aggregation is left to the individual's taste in applications. Any feed reader that groks OPML will play nicely with the great directory OPML features. And any app can, of course, subscribe to the individual feeds. It's a really great directory application, and has been running well in production on BlogBridge's server for some time now. But it needs some love if it's going to thrive in an academic environment. Currently, there is a small group of trusted stewards, or "Experts" that are given folders of feeds to manage. That's fine when there may be a dozen or two contributing "Experts" - but how does that scale to a class with 20, 60, or 300 students? How does that scale to an institutional level with 30,000 students and hundreds of faculty playing in the pool? How do you refine control so that a student can add their feeds to the appropriate places, without having to go through a central gatekeeper? ...

August 9, 2007 · 3 min

Edublogs are cool!

I just got a note from Pito Salas over at Blogbridge, and it looks like my Edublogs Guide was the most popular guide on the service for the month of July! That Guide is the snapshot of my Edublogs reading list in BlogBridge, so it's cool to see that it's coming in handy for someone. Or, is someone just using it as a starting point for some Pipes/GoogleMashup/OPML automated coolness? Either way, Edublogs kicked ass and took names in July....

August 7, 2007 · 1 min

1 Month with Google Reader

I can't believe it's been a whole month since I started trying out Google Reader (GR) full time. I wanted to see if I could live in a browser-based aggregator, and was curious about how far it had come since the early days. The short version is: it's less efficient at reading boatloads of feeds and items. But, the always-on, available-anywhere design of GR makes it worthwhile. The long version is, well, longer....

July 5, 2007 · 3 min

BlogBridge FeedLibrary as EduGlu?

I've been forcing myself to keep thinking about (and rethinking) the concept of EduGlu - a set of tools and/or practices that would more effectively support distributed online publishing while maintaining the sense of group and community needed to make this stuff more meaningful in an educational context. I waver back and forth, between building The One True �berapp To Aggregate Them All, and a more freeform, organic, barebones directory....

April 12, 2007 · 3 min

Heading back to BlogBridge

I tried. I really did. I wanted to give Google Reader a full week to see how well it works as a full-time feed aggregator. I couldn't do it. My morning check-in took 5 times longer than normal this morning. Google Reader seems like it would be nice for a small set of feeds, but it becomes unwieldy on my subscriptions. Endless scrolling, lots of clicking on folders, and waiting for items to be added to the bottom of the page, with no indication of how far you've come through the items in a folder (the scroll bar eventually becomes pegged at the bottom, even if there are 300 items left to read)....

February 8, 2007 · 1 min

Trying Google Reader Again

I've been a raving, drooling BlogBridge fanboy for some time now. It's the best darned desktop aggregator I've used. That hasn't changed. But, with all of the cool kids using Google Reader, I decided it's time to really give it a chance again. I dropped it like it's hot the last time I tried it because it doesn't have a feed star rating system, nor smart feeds. But, it's got a pretty flexible feed tagging system, which can be easily cajoled into performing these duties....

February 6, 2007 · 2 min

BlogBridge Screencast

I recorded my morning RSS checkin with BlogBridge 4.1 (well, I recorded it with iShowU, but the checkin was done using BlogBridge). The power of the feed star rating feature is really hard to describe - it's much easier to just show it. I wound up with a 16 minute recording, which is about how long it takes for me to check in on 443 feeds first thing in the morning....

December 4, 2006 · 1 min

Edublogs Reading List on BlogBridge

I was asked to share my Edublogs reading list, which is published automatically by my copy of BlogBridge, in the BlogBridge Topic Guides website. It's basically a web front end for the .opml file generated by BlogBridge, but it might be a handy way to share the list. So, now I'm a "BlogBridge Topic Expert" - I'm rather uncomfortable with the term "expert" but it's their word, not mine. The new Edublogs Reading List is online, and (I think) should stay synced with my list in BlogBridge, so maintenance won't be a problem....

September 13, 2006 · 1 min

BlogBridge 3.0

BlogBridge, my most favoritest RSS aggregator app, was bumped to version 3.0 this week. Lots and lots of small improvements, but most of the big changes are under the hood. Performance rocks (it totally doesn't feel like a Java app - it feels like any other native application), and things like syncing feeds and preferences with the BlogBridge service (for accessing from other machines, or publishing guides as OPML, or just as backup) is nearly instantaneous....

July 30, 2006 · 2 min

BlogBridge Updated to 2.15

The BlogBridge folks rolled out a cool update to their RSS reader. The biggest addition is a very handy search tool, strongly inspired by Spotlight. Here's a sample of a quick search to find any posts in any of my feeds which have been published since yesterday, and contain the word "podcasting": Now that's just plain cool. It was technically possible by creating SmartFeeds in previous versions, but that was a clunky process that wasn't well suited to ad-hoc on-the-fly searches....

March 24, 2006 · 2 min