Build your own web aggregator the easy way


I read around 145 archae­ology, clas­sics or his­tory web­logs. No-one sane has time to do all that with a browser so I would nor­mally use an RSS reader. For instance Flock checks the RSS feeds of all the sites and then just high­lights the sites with some­thing new on them. So I can keep up with over a hun­dred web­logs without hav­ing to actu­ally check them all. This has been work­ing fine, until I had a desktop machine and then a laptop blow up.

At the moment I’m flit­ting between a few machines and now Flock is not so use­ful because it only stores what I’ve read on the local machine. If I start another copy on a dif­fer­ent machine then that com­puter starts show­ing a whole slew of head­lines I’ve already seen, so I’ve been exper­i­ment­ing with ways to keep up-to-date that are web-based. I’ve tried a few online read­ers. I liked Newsgator, but I haven’t found one that works reli­ably. For example Newsgator would over­look the feed from Snail’s Tales for no fathom­able reason. I’ve tried Google Reader but found it over com­plic­ated. What I want to see a list of head­lines in chro­no­lo­gical order. I don’t want to star them, file them or search for them at the local cinema.

My cur­rent exper­i­ment is with Technorati. I think I’ve over­looked the favour­ites fea­ture. What I’ve done recently is favour­ite the history-type blogs I try to fol­low. So now I have 162. This is fine as far as it goes, but sup­pose I’m a his­tory mood? As an option I can tag blogs. This is how I know I fol­low 145 clas­si­coar­chae­o­his­tor­ical blogs. The page sorts them into des­cend­ing chro­no­lo­gical order and I can see what’s been said recently. On top of this there’s an RSS gen­er­ated for all blogs under a tag at: http://​feeds​.tech​nor​ati​.com/​f​a​v​e​s​/​a​l​u​n​s​a​l​t​/​t​ag/tag­name?format=rss This forms the basis of the New History web feed I’ve been tweaking.

Except this too has its prob­lems. According to tech­nor­ati sites like the Stoa don’t update their site. This plainly isn’t the case, so it’s another sys­tem which doesn’t quite work.

So I’ve been exper­i­ment­ing again. Unseen Treasures is an idea I’ve ripped off the from Why Don’t You? blog. It’s a Tumblelog, which gath­ers inform­a­tion from vari­ous RSS feeds. I’m not eager to simply repub­lish everyone’s feed in full, and there’s no easy way to trim the feed descrip­tion to 200 char­ac­ters, so it’s title only. On the other hand this does ensure that people writ­ing inter­est­ing head­lines will being get­ting clicks through.

It’s amaz­ingly easy to set up, a lot easier than WordPress or Blogger and, if all you want is a scrap­book, per­fectly suit­able for gath­er­ing stuff. The only thing miss­ing is group blog­ging facil­it­ies. For that it might be worth wait­ing for the next release of Gelato.