FactCheck.org: Scraped Webfeeds

I love FactCheck.org – a nonpartisan project by the Annenberg Public Policy Center that uses journalistic expertise to “monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases.”

If ever there was a presidential election that needed such context, 2004 is the year.

You can subscribe to receive free e-mail alerts whenever FactCheck.org publishes a new article. Unfortunately, they don’t yet offer their own webfeed. According to Feedster’s Feedfinder service, three third-party “scraped” webfeeds are available that deliver FactCheck.org headlines.

Yes, I know that scraped webfeeds present an ethical quandary for some people. I’ve written about that issue before. But personally, if I want a webfeed to stay abreast of a site’s content and they don’t offer one, I’ll probably subscribe to a scraped feed as long as it delivers what I want. And when the content provider catches up with the 21st century and implements a webfeed, I’ll switch to the source. But frankly, I prefer webfeeds over e-mail alerts, whether they come straight from the source or not.

More Misc. Cool Stuff to Check Out

Here are some more items which have caught my attention recently:

At the top of the list: What Do You See Ahead? Seven Questions To Robin Good About Present And Future In Education, Communication Technologies And The Arts, June 20, Robin Good’s Master New Media weblog. I love this blog, it’s one of my favorites.

Here’s the first of seven questions Good tackles thoughtfully: “Can you describe to us what you would consider an end product, or outcome, of education?” Excerpt from Good’s response: “To me the end product of education should be an individual capable of effectively evaluating reality through a refined ability to research, analyze and question information in a critical way. …The more education provides for specialized know-how and weak critical evaluation capabilities in favour of notionistic learning, the more we endanger our fellow [humans] to be dependant on external authority and centralized resources of knowledge to direct the available opportunities in hir life.” Absolutely. Excellent. Do not miss this article!

The rest of today’s recommended reading list…
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More on Learning to Roll

Here’s a must-read article: Creative Thinking as a Way of Life, Jan. 23, 2004, Blog News for Bloggers, by Wayne Hurlbert.

Excerpt: “Creativity reduces risk by looking at solutions to problems. Rather than living with problems, …the creative person looks for opportunities for improvement. The glitches, problems, and failures represent challenges, not roadblocks. The non-creative solutions in business often result from acceptance of failure. “

This is an excellent complement to something I wrote yesterday, Corporate Weblogs: Learning to Roll.

Corporate Weblogs: Learning to Roll

Back on May 3, Seth Godin wrote in his weblog A Penny For…

“Most blogs are boring, self-absorbed, trivial and not worth remembering, never mind talking to people about. Company blogs are worse, because everyone wants to play it safe. Safe is risky! Safe is invisible! If you want to play it safe, please don’t bother wasting time on a blog. It won’t work.”

Agreed. Blogs are definitely not for the risk-averse.

When you blog, you expose yourself or your organization in a way that opens you to more examination, questioning, re/mis-interpretation, and criticism than you’d otherwise encounter. That can be useful and educational – also unsettling and humiliating. It becomes harder to hide the inevitable errors and gaffes that plague us all. To make it all work, you must admit that you’re human (or that your organization is composed of humans) and roll with it
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Bye Bye, Explorer

UPDATE JULY 14, 2004: The information in this article is now largely our of date. I’ve changed a lot of things, after much experimentation and exasperation. Find out what I’m using now. Read: Feed Readers: What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been.

(Original article…)
I’ve finally abandoned Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Web browser altogether in my Internet use. yeah, it was convenient for awhile – until it got buggy on me and kept crashing. It’s also a spyware magnet, which is a hassle. But what recently pushed me over the edge was this pointed weblog entry by Gary Lawrence Murphy: How to use MSIE Online: Don’t. See also this article from SpywareInfo.

Result: I’m now a very happy and dedicated user of Mozilla’s Firefox browser.

One issue in abandoning Explorer is my webfeed reader. For a while now, my favorite feed reader has been FeedDemon – mainly because I love the interface. The default embedded Web browser that comes with FeedDemon is Explorer. This means that when I click on a feed item, FeedDemon’s preview panel uses Explorer to display the results, thus exposing me to all of Explorers bugs and vulnerabilities.

If you use FeedDemon, here’s how you can change that…
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Heads Up: Happy Birthday, FOIA!

Just a little public service announcement here for US citizens… In case you didn’t notice, a nifty US law called the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is about to turn 38. (It was signed into law by Pres. Lyndon Johnson on July 4, 1966.) Not necessarily a milestone birthday, but still I think the fact that it’s still surviving, especially in the current climate of sharply increased government secrecy, deserves some appreciation…
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How is a Wiki Like a Weblog?

Recently I wrote about the concept of the bliki, which combines characteristics of weblogs and wikis.

Along this theme, the weblog Hunting the Muse recently pondered what, exactly, weblogs and wikis have in common, and how they might best be combined in a practical way. Check out Weblogs, Wikis, and Comments.

Also, see Robin Good’s recent weblog entry about blikis: After The Blog Is Gone: SnipSnap Plays Bliki. It’s a bit more technical than the first article, but not too difficult – and it’s definitely stuff you’ll want to understand if you want to explore the emerging bliki world.

SEE A BLIKI IN ACTION: Martin Fowler’s Fowler’s Bliki. The topic it covers is fairly technical (software development), but look at it for how it gets used – and read his intention for this project. It’s an intriguing format.

Free Shagging Marmots, Courtesy of BBC, This Fall

…Don’t knock it – it’s a start.

This fall, the BBC will put its Creative Archive online. According to Wired News, this ambitious project will, “make thousands of audio and video clips available to the public for noncommercial viewing, sharing and editing. It will debut with natural-history programming.”

This online content database will be available under a license similar to the US Creative Commons approach. However, it’s not for everyone. BBC’s Creative Archive will be available only to British citizens who pay the yearly TV license fee. Access will be denied to people who attempt to log on from a non-UK IP address. (Well, hmmmmmm…. A lot of people from all over the world visit the UK and use the Internet there….)

According to Wired News, the UK group Union for the Public Domain has initiated an activist campaign to ensure that this archive eventually offers more varied fare than “shagging marmots.”