Edited by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Saturday, October 16, 2004

The Network Second Layer: RSS Newsmastering

"...I have been using the existing network in order to collect, organize, and redistribute information.

In a certain sense, what I have been building is the equivalent of an airport hub or freeway interchange, a place where many strands of the network come together, are reorganized, and redistributed.

What I have built is a system called Edu_RSS, a software program that harvests the RSS feeds from two or three hundred educational technology blogs, stores the links in a searchable database, and then, sorts the links into topics and redistributes the results as a set of topic-specific RSS feeds.

Thus, for example, I have on my website a page called ‘learning objects’ that represents, in real time, the collective contributions of several hundred authors, and yet is specific enough that it represents a very concentrated – and manageable – stream of information for the average reader.

Essentially, what Edu_RSS has become is a specialized content filter.

It filters content in two ways.

First, it filters content by selectivity. Our of the four million or so RSS feeds available, I have selected only a small number, only those relevant to my particular interests, from sources I think are reliable.

Second, it filters by content. Each item is subjected to a semantical test – in my case, by matching it with a regular expression. Only items that match the expression are forwarded through the feed.

Edu_RSS also interprets data as it comes in.

The world of RSS is unstructured – there are no fewer than nine types of RSS, numerous modifications and extensions, syntactic variations, and more. From this hodge-podge Edu_RSS extracts only the information it needs.

If information is missing it supplies its own data. Part of Edu_RSS, a routine that analyzes mailing lists and creates specialized mailing list RSS feeds, actually constructs part of the RSS file by examining other data.

But for all that, the key to Edu_RSS is specialization.

For all its power, it only tries to do this work for a small part of the internet. It is no Google; it is nothing more than a single node in a very complex network."

And now fasten your seat belt for the key statement here. Would-be independent publishers, digital information librarians, research masters and pro-bloggers...open your ears. (I am telling you this stuff is coming.)

Read slowly and with maximum attention what Stephen Downes says right here:

"What should happen, what is already happening, is that a large network of sites like Edu_RSS should emerge, forming in essence a second layer in the network.

The result of this second layer is that the internet will self-organize, that information generated in a thousand or a million places will cluster, become composite, interpreted, specialized, and produce highly targeted, highly specific resource feeds at the output end."

Go check the effectiveness of the system he has built.
Check out the predetermined categories feeds or try out your own via a custom search.

Get the drift?

That is what newsmastering is about. See it at Edu_RSS live.

Original quote from:
The Buntine Oration: Learning Networks
(Text of the Buntine Oration, delivered to the at the Australian College of Educators and the Australian Council of Educational Leaders conference in Perth, Australia.
Stephen.Downes@nrc.ca">Stephen Downes
October 9 2004



Stephen Downes - [ Read more ]
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Readers' Comments    
2004-11-05 03:41:15

Owen Thomas

This is a layer of filtering of information that becomes necessary as the multitude of references grows out of control by search engines such as google. I need to discover those who participate in selective participation in minimized concepts that are elusive because they are difficult to define. I often need to search large lists of sites which are mostly outside my field of interest. I admire those who publish selecive references. Please help applaud those who are selective and who help to define their procedures of selection; they are valuable pioneers in this abundance of information on the WWW.

posted by Robin Good on Saturday, October 16 2004, updated on Friday, February 26 2010

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