Yahoo: Another Way to Find Relevant Webfeeds

Often when people first begin using webfeeds (whether RSS or Atom format), they face the challenge of finding webfeeds that provide content which is uniquely relevant or interesting to them. Earlier I listed a few basic ways to find cool webfeeds, but these largely depended on locating Web-based resources of interest and then checking whether they offer feeds.

While there are some topic-based webfeed directories (available through services such as NewsIsFree, Syndic8, or Rootblog), so far these tend to be rather limited and spotty when compared to the actual universe of webfeeds.

Yahoo search does offer another option to help you zero in on webfeeds that provide content of interest to you. It’s not perfect, but it is useful and pretty good. Here’s how it works…
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The Strange Psychology of Adsense Keywords

My husband and I are out here in the beautiful western slope region of Colorado, visiting our friends, online entreprenuers Randy Cassingham and Kit Riley Cassingham. Of course, we’re all sitting here in the living room of their brand-new mountain home, geeking on our laptops.

Randy was just telling me about the oddities of the ads that Google Adsense serves up on one of his sites, Randy exclaimed, “Sometimes the context of the ad is funnier than the joke!”

It really makes me wonder what keywords some of these advertisers are selecting, and why. There’s definitely some weird psychology going on here.

For example…
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Get Human! Monolithic Voices Aren’t Credible, Especially Online

Recently I was interviewed by a major international organization about what makes great Web content. I’ll protect their anonymity, but I would like to share a key point that arose in this interview. It hits on something so fundamental to content from organizations, institutions, or businesses that I must share it with my CONTENTIOUS readers.

This organization asked, “When we write we often have to take a more general tone and angle to incorporate the views and policies of our consituencies. Consequently, our style tends to be wordy, generic, and serpentine. What tips do you have for keeping us in check?”

My advice: Get human! Stop trying to speak in a monolithic, generic voice. It’s incredibly difficult to write that way, and it’s even more excruciating to have to read that kind of content. Why make things so hard for yourself and your audience? Just write clearly, in human terms, and don’t be afraid to display diversity and dissent. No one believes a monolithic voice, so it undermines your credibility….
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Government Intranets: 10 Winners for Usability

Intranets are becoming increasingly important to how many organizations (including government agencies) function. However, the true benefits of intranets become reality only when people actually USE them – regularly, and well.

We all want our governments to function efficiently, since we’re paying for them. Thus, intranet usability is a key way to increase the productivity of a government workforce. In light of this, the Nielsen Norman Group sponsored a usability competition for government intranet sites, open to governments all over the world. Winners were announced June 21:

  • Defense Finance and Accounting Service (US)
  • Department for Transport (UK)
  • Department of Veterans Affairs Mid-Atlantic Health Care Network (US)
  • Department for Victorian Communities (Australia)
  • Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond (US)
  • Government Offices of Sweden (Regeringskansliet)
  • London Underground
  • National Research Council of Canada, Industrial Research Assistance Program
  • Senate Republican Conference (US)
  • Workplace Safety and Insurance Board of Ontario (Canada)

What makes an effective government intranet? One of the key factors described by NNG is content – specifically, encouraging and managing content contributors. Here’s what NNG had to say about that…
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Google Creeps Toward RSS Webfeeds

On June 9, CNet reported that the search giant Google is considering support for RSS-format webfeeds in addition to Atom-format. Previously, Google had backed the Atom format at the expense of RSS.

Millimeter by millimeter, Google appears to be creeping toward the use of webfeeds. They haven’t apparently DONE anything yet, mind you. Most importantly, you still can only get keyword-specific Google News alerts by e-mail. (I continue to shake my head in bewilderment over that glaring omission.)

But they appear to be moving. Slowly. Secretively. And on this issue, any movement is probably good.

(Thanks to Strategic Public Relations for this link.)

A New Wiki/Bliki Movement Afoot?

When I wrote Learning with (and from) Wikis a few weeks ago, I thought I was behind the times. I thought that most of the basic points about wikis had already been explored in various online discussion forums.

As it turns out, I may have unwittingly become part of a new movement to expand and enhance the use of wikis, or to expand them into blikis. (A bliki is a weblog with wiki support – which is a very cool idea and something I’m seriously considering exploring in my own projects.)

Well, it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve blundered into a revolution…
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Great Primer on Metadata and Taxonomy

For my fellow content professionals who wish to make a place for themselves in the next editorial frontier (content management, online learning, and related fields that desperately need our perspective and talents), here’s an excellent backgrounder to help you get up to speed on some key concepts.

See: Developing and Creatively Leveraging Hierarchical Metadata and Taxonomy by Christian Ricci (May 23, Boxes and Arrows).

…Yes, I realize that’s a dry, geeky title. Despite its academic tone, this article does offer incredibly useful information in a fairly clear fashion. Most importantly, it clarifies the cornerstone terms taxonomy and metadata. It also explains how to apply these concepts appropriately and effectively in order to organize and connect information. Ultimately, it’s all about context.

10 Cool Things to Do with Furl

(UPDATE, Apr. 20, 2005: Furl and Almost Perfect Together)

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been using a new free online service called Furl to aid various projects I’m working on. It’s quite versatile and useful, although it’s not perfect. I see a lot of possibilities for this kind of tool. (How do YOU use Furl?)

Basically, Furl allows you to create an online archive of Web pages that you want to save for future reference. Yes, in most cases you’re actually saving the Web page to a new location – so if it gets relocated, revised, or removed later, you have a copy of the original version for future reference.

You can sort your furled items into topic-based folders. And (this is the cool part) share selected parts of your Furl archive with others via a syndicated list on your own Web site, hyperlink to Furl, webfeed (RSS), or daily e-mail alert.

Yes, you can also keep your archive private. Yes, you can provide group access to a Furl account. (That’s a bit of a hack, but it can be done.) Yes, you can comment on individual items. I’m not going to spend time here explaining the details of the service; if you’re interested read Furl’s FAQ.

Here’s a quick description of how I’m using Furl, and a list of 10 cool things you can do with Furl…

(MORE: I’ve added these Furl articles: More Furl Tricks, One More Furl Trick: Pre-Blogging, About Furl, File Sharing, and Copyright, and Furl Tricks: Save Exactly and All of What You Want)
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