February 3, 2006

What is a BlogBridge Reading List, and how do I use it?

Filed under: BlogBridge — Pito Salas on 7:57 pm

I’ve written bits and pieces about Reading Lists over the last 2 months. Here in a single FAQ I want to give you a single summary of what Reading Lists are and how to use them in BlogBridge.

What is a Reading List?



A Reading List is:

a collection of Feeds, usually about a single topic, which someone has put together for the benefit of others

For example, our BlogBridge Topic Experts have created reading lists about Journalism (thanks Dan Gilmor,) Library Blogs (thanks Jenny Levine) and so on. We have about a dozen BlogBridge Topic Experts, but there are lots and lots of other Reading Lists out there. In a future post I will give a little tour of where else to find them.

Reading Lists are a really cool way to share knowledge. Think of the authors of Reading Lists as “Feed Jockeys” - they spin Feeds for others to enjoy.

How do I create a Reading List?

Picture 3-8

With BlogBridge anyone can create a Reading List: If you have a set of feeds on some topic or another that you want to make available to a friend or to the whole world, you can do that, very simply with BlogBridge.

All you have to do is to create a Guide that contains the Feeds that you want to include, and with a single checkbox, publish it as a Reading List. Once BlogBridge syncs with the (free) BlogBridge service, your reading list is assigned a hyperlink that only you know. You can decide to just give it to your Mom or put it up for the whole world to see. It’s up to you.

And the beauty is, you change the Feeds in the published guide, and next time you sync, the Reading List that is out there is automatically updated for anyone who is using it. It’s important to note that publish your Reading List using BlogBridge does not require anyone to use BlogBridge to use it. We follow the OPML standard which should assure interoperability.

How do I follow (subscribe to) a Reading List?

Not everyone is (or thinks they are) an expert. You may know someone who’s published a Reading List (one of our experts or anyone else who might have one.) Actually it doesn’t matter where it comes from, as long as you have the hyperlink (a.k.a. URL).

With that you can just add the Reading List, dynamically, to a Guide. A Guide is a lot like a folder where you can keep Feeds. But in addition you can tell the Guide to incorporate all the feeds mentioned in someone’s Reading List. You supply the Reading Lists hyperlink and from then on the Guide will keep itself in sync with the Reading List. So if your friend or your friendly expert decides to add one or remove another Feed from the list, no problem, you see the changes. Notice the little “antenna” next to the name of the Feed? That tells me that I didn’t put it there manually, it was put there by a Reading List.

This screenshot shows me subscribing to a Reading List provided by the Web 2.0 Workgroup. My Guide is populated with exactly those Feeds, and as folks join or leave the Workgroup, my Guide will follow. Very nice!

Picture 1-26

Some more details

A Reading List, like a web page or a feed, is known by its hyperlink. In the case of Reading Lists the format is OPML, just as web pages and feeds use HTML and RSS, respectively. So while of course we are proud of our Reading List support, there are other tools out there, and there will be more, that can help you either publish or subscribe to a Reading List, and BlogBridge should work fine with them.

That’s all

As you can see, with BlogBridge it’s very easy to create your own Reading Lists. In fact since we launched the feature about a week ago, there are already over 50 reading lists created. Currently they are private but we are working on coming up with something to help with that too :) Stay tuned.

Caveats

Reading Lists are currently available in the “Weekly Release“, 2.12. It is quite usable. Sometime during the first 2 weeks of February 2006 (next week in other words) we will release a new “Stable Release”, probably called 2.13, which will include all this and more.

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