Friday, June 23, 2006

Ego searches on Technorati - aggregated onto Bloglines

A couple of weeks ago I gave a workshop on blogging, tagging and RSS (full ppt outline here). One of the key elements of the workshop was setting up a system similar to a personalized "news clipping" service, using Bloglines and Technorati. The main gist was this -
Identify tags of interest (like this one on or this one on Flickr), and copy the link to the orange RSS/ "Feed" URL into a new "My Feed" in Bloglines". The benefit of this is that if you do this for all your tags of interest, this gives you a "feed" of those tags all in one place, as opposed to checking on FLickr,, Technorati, etc every day/week/month.
Now the kicker of the workshop was supposed to be the idea of setting up "ego searches" from Technorati into Bloglines. Technorati is a service that searches blogs; the idea is that you can find out what people are saying about your organization, or issue area that is important to your organization, by typing in the appropriate search terms in Technorati. (For example, see this is a link to a Technorati search on "poverty".)

What I wanted to do was be able to set up appropriate searches (like the one above) then copy the RSS URL link into Bloglines. As an example, if worked for the ONE campaign, and I did a search on Technorati for "poverty" and then "" - then pasted the feeds into Bloglines - all of a sudden I've got a pretty nice little ego search news clipping service, all located in one aggregated blog reader (Bloglines).

Except it's not quite that easy - Technorati doesn't allow you to automatically create an RSS feed of a search term (unlike a tag). To see what I mean, compare a Technorati keyword search with a Technorati "tag" search - the former does not have the tell-tale RSS button at the bottom (it's blue on Technorati for some inexplicable reason, so if at first you don't see it on the second link, look again - it's there, at the end of the list, not at the bottom of the page).

Well, I finally figured out how you're supposed to do it:
  • You need to set up a Technorati account first.
  • After you've logged in, using the search page (not the tag page), type in your search keyword.
  • Then make that search a "Watchlist."
  • Once you've made the watchlist, you will see the telltale RSS button in that search-list. That's what you can copy and paste into Bloglines.
(Note that - as far as I can tell - both and Flickr do not enable RSS feeds of keyword searches, only tag searches.)

It would be great if people could tell me if this made sense and was useful. I'm trying to strike a balance between giving appropriate information (I know, I know, I don't necessarily explain how do to do things very explicitly) and spenfing all my time writing tech primers on Web2.0 tools.

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Monday, June 12, 2006

Taking a break - till late next week

After the last two weeks of running around (nothing, I know, compared to the folks who work hard to put on the events that I was attending during that time) , I'm off on a short personal trip that takes me away from my computer. Well, *I* take myself away from my computer, but that's because I still can, unlike some folks I know.

(And a nod to co-panelist Christine Cupaiuolo who pointed out a bunch of great nonprofit sites, including the previously mentioned Chicago Classical Music, which she actually helped launch. Christine is a contributor to PopPolitics too - why don't you head on over there and read a bit, eh?.)

The resources are here!

Some more things I learned while in Chicago:

Both Steppenwolf Theatre and fans of Chicago Classical Music have multiple-author blogs! Way to go!

So I finally posted all the website links that we mentioned - even in passing - during our web tools conversations at the Community Media Workshop conference in Chicago. Even if you weren't there, this might be an interesting list for you to look at, since it's the more comprehensive list of tools I've put together, and even tried to add some sort of context in their description.

What you are looking at: This is a list of websites that I have "bookmarked" on the website I have bookmarked the sites, added a brief description, and then added "tag" categories of my own making. If you read my previous post about, then you'd know that you can slice-n-dice this list in several ways. For example, everything tagged with mmc2006 (my tag in reference to the Making Media Connections conference) can be found from teh link above.

If you only want to look at the blog-related items on the list, add the tag "blog" using a plus (+) sign directly in the URL:

If you wanted to look at the advocacy tools, add "advocacy":

If you wanted to get sneaky, you could drop the "mmc2006" tag, and see anything tagged "advocacy" within all of - which may mean you'll get things out of context.

See my previous post for more info about how the tags (and URLs) work, and how looking at my tags is different than looking at all tags.

(And this has also been tagged in Technorati under:

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Making those connections - a quick review

[Not finished with the resources list yet....]
In the meantime (see previous post), here are two quick case-studies and an insight (if I can call it that):

GROW has a website built on Drupal, and publishes podcasts. According to the E.D. and primary podcaster, Erika Huber, they are the 2nd most popular educational podcast online. She is one of the few female podcasters online now, and one of the few educational podcasters (in comparison to, say, techie podcasters). And the website traffic - and hence the people who have become engaged with her organization - has ballooned from the low 30s to the thousands per month.

Erika says she uses GarageBand (on the Mac) to record and edit her podcasts, but someone else recommended Audacity (an open-source downloadable app for PCs and Macs). Or you could use Odeo Studio and do it all online. You can find GROW's podcasts, along with tons of other podcasts, at - but maybe the easiest thing to do is to search for "podcast" and your favorite topic area.

Wow - a nonprofit organization that's using a bunch of tools we've been talking about for months - and I had never heard of them before.

(Someone else pointed out the Western Folklife website - including recordings of cowboy poetry and a group of different western artists who have their own blogs! Great things are happening online with new nonprofit media! Thanks Alex!)
And this points to a key lesson - something I know but occasionally need reminding of. Connections and communities happen between people - the tools are just a means to an ends. The huge interest in social networking applications sits on top of the assumption that networking in and of itself is important. Ultimately, it's often necessary to make that human conneciton at regular points along your community-building travels. Honestly, I don't know how long I would have looked and never found a) a great, simple Drupal site, b) that is hosting podcasts - unless I had personally travelled halfway across the country and met Erika in person.

But now, as Marnie experiences - can you network so much you're a mile wide but an inch deep? And it that soley the fault of our new tools, or the fact that our society has not yet adjusted to how to make these tools work for us, and opposed to just working us.


Friday, June 09, 2006

Making Media Connections - but no resources yet

I just got back from the Community Media Workshop conference in Chicago, where I ran a four hour workshop/ presentation on blogging, tagging and RSS (full PDF is linked here). I learned a lot, and I also realized that there are a lot of tools that we take for granted in this web-saturated corner of our world (read: California Bay Area) that can be of huge use to nonprofits. Of course we know that, otherwise we would not have put on the NetSquared conference - but many of the people at the conference had never heard of NetSquared, nor CompuMentor. In fact, it was one of the first times I've presented in front a group of nonprofits (and kudos to CMW to getting together such a great pool of nonprofits) where barely half had heard of So we are still challenged with getting the word out there - it's not so much a digital divide, as a knowledge gap.

I was on a "Web tools" panel the second day, the audience make-up of which was similar to my workshop the first day - a mix of web-savvy folks and those just trying to understand and catch-up. A bunch of tools and URLs were thrown around, and I volunteered to capture them for future reference. I haven't done it yet! But I'm working on it - check back on my blog soon!


Tech Strategies for the Developing World

"Tech Strategies for the Developing World" is (my) title for a series of conversations we had at WineCamp - what kinds of technology (if any?) could be directly useful "on the ground" in rural parts of the developing world - as opposed to just looking at technology from a generalized "learning technology is good for job-training" standpoint. I didn't take notes at the time (hey, we had no power!), but I wrote down all I could remember from those conversations, and put the notes on the (new) WineCamp wiki.

I'll likley go back to it and start adding URLs as I find them (like the wifi bus and MobileActive and Grameen). However, the Wiki is not a good place to have a conversation, so I (or you?) need to check out Omidyar, the obvious place to continue this conversation - and see if there's any community there of this sort yet or not. And if not, let's start one!

Technorati'd under: (unless you have a better tag suggestion?)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Online Community Camp and Proprietary Communities

Online Community Camp was a hybrid between a one-day conference and an open-space unconference. It struck me that most people in the room were not the Web2.0 Geekerati that dominated WineCamp and NetSquared (I say this based on a simple comparison of WineCamp blogs, tags and photos (or NetSquared blogs, tags, photos) and occ2006 blogs, tags and photos) The audience represented a large range of coporate and for-profit interests, with (slightly more than a) handful of nonprofits thrown in, so maybe occupying the middle ground of hierarchy vs. spontaneous organization was best after all. Another element that was striking was that most people seemed to refer to message boards as the primary definition of "online community" (although you can build an online social network of people with related interested in photo communities, event communities, and even collections of tags).

Although the OCC crowd was honestly interested in sharing best practices and feedback, many were less interested in actual transparent community sharing, and more interested in building their own communities to increase their own value. Now I say this without judgement - a community of support for learning-disability--challenged children doesn't need to be visible across the world - but other communities presented where definitely more arbitrarily closed. My "gestalt" from this meeting was a) the obvious, that online communities (and the buzzword social networking) are hot, and b) there are a lot of people who believe they can either make money directly, or build the value of their organization, by building an online community.

Again, I don't have a problem with this philosophically. There are very good reasons - even for activist nonprofits or for private coporations - to build communities that can support and add value (and improve the sustainability) of the "parent" organization. As for "monetizing your community" - well, I may consider myelf more of a venture socialist than capitalist but if anything I'm a data communist (commonist?).

And this comes back to the fundamental challenge I had with the conferenece - very few people were interested in overlapping communities, or how to share communities and community content. (There was a tiny audience of partially interested people at the identity / data standards lunchtime talk, given by Identity Woman. I'm very interested in her and other's work in the Identity Commons, for reasons described below). Everyone seemed to think they could build an independent community that would somehow be able to compete for a user's attention better than anyone else's - and that goes for nonprofit organizations building communites of support or activism as well as the dating communties, the "brand loyalty" communities and social networking communities.

I don't believe in that. I believe that communities will not be locations, but shared interests and conversations and photos and music (read: data) that can be found and sifted through using the right tools. (and I believe in open wikis so that other people who are valuable to the conversation can join in - and so that information can be found later by search engines, etc).

So as I try to redesign an online community, I'm particulary interested in how people can participate without having to continually come back to the site URL - i.e. how can I build my online community so that it plays with all the right tools. That doesn't mean I'm going to ignore the more basic users who will come to the site, log in, and then post information - but I want to make sure that people can publish remotely from their web browser (i.e. using Flock or Performancing); they can read information remotely, (i.e. use standards such as XML/ RSS and Microformats). And I want to republish from other sites (using a RSS reader or aggregator) as well as publish out to other sites (uisng things like automatic XML genration and using tags...). And ultimately, I want the site to be able to access and share an open identity format - to distribute not only basic login information, but different levels of identity profile information.

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