Friendfeed: Tech Tuesday


So far we have Twitter, Flickr and pos­sibly Audioboo. We could add more ser­vices like deli­cious or Zotero in the future, but we’re get­ting messy. How can you pull them all together? The answer is Friendfeed. I found Friendfeed easier to under­stand than Twitter, but I’m told I’m in a minor­ity, so I’ll try and take it slowly.

If you sign in to Friendfeed you can then sign in to all your other online ser­vices. Friendfeed then pulls together a page of the latest things you’ve been post­ing around the web. So in my case if I com­ment on AJCann’s web­log, which uses Disqus for com­ments, those com­ments will appear in my Friendfeed stream. That’s because I’ve told Friendfeed where to find my Disqus account. It’s a bit like a col­la­tion of what you do on the social side of the inter­net. Like a lot of social things it gets more inter­est­ing when you add people.

If you have a Friendfeed account you can go to my page, sub­scribe, and you’ll see what I’m up to on your page. Do that with sev­eral friends and it starts to look like the social web in one con­veni­ent loc­a­tion. You won’t just see our tweets, you’ll see pho­tos, blog posts and many other things. You can also add unsup­por­ted sites if they have an RSS feed, because Friendfeed can read RSS. This is how Friendfeed knows what’s in my Cite-U-Like account, and when I get around to tack­ling Zotero prop­erly to store my ref­er­ences, it’ll be able to handle that too.

On top of that, each entry on Friendfeed is open to be com­men­ted on or ‘liked’. Commenting is fairly obvi­ous, but like is more ambigu­ous. If you ‘like’ some­thing you’re merely draw­ing atten­tion to it, so that other people fol­low­ing your stream can see it. For instance if Bora Zivkovic men­tions a nat­ural dis­aster, click­ing ‘like’ just means that I think it’s import­ant. Sadly the Friendfeed inter­face is poorly designed here, because if someone put up the mes­sage “OMG! An aster­oid hit Essex and wiped out Basildon” and I thought it was import­ant, my response would look like:

n-smile Alun liked this.

You can add com­ments, like Twitter. You can also add links eas­ily through a book­mark­let. You can also set up for­ums for dis­cus­sion using the rooms or groups fea­ture. One of the feeds I’ve added to the right is a list of what’s recently been added to the Archaeology group. Like Flickr, I would have thought it would be use­ful for a schol­arly soci­ety, because you could make the feed pub­lic, but limit the abil­ity to post and thus pub­li­cise your own work, to soci­ety mem­bers. Like Flickr, I’ve prob­ably over­looked some very basic point about schol­arly societies.

You can fol­low me at http://​friend​feed​.com/​a​lun. If you sign up to the site leave your use­name below and people will be able to fol­low you.

RSS: Tech Tuesday


Frustration can work both ways. Talking about the inter­net with some clas­si­cists can be dif­fi­cult when I step down the explan­a­tion of what I’m talk­ing about, then sim­plify it again, then dis­cover that the didn’t real­ise email worked over the inter­net. At the same time talk­ing to digital nat­ives can be con­fus­ing with a stream of bizarre ini­tials and there’s not always an easy ref­er­ence. So what I’ll have a go at is put­ting together some posts on basic inter­net con­cepts and sites. I’ve run into incom­pre­hen­sion talk­ing about Creative Commons, Flickr, Twitter, Blogging and SQL. A series of posts, even­tu­ally com­piled into a Lulu book might help with that. But where to start?

After email, the next key inter­net tech­no­logy for me is RSS. What the let­ters RSS stand for is debat­able. The favour­ite is Really Simple Syndication. That doesn’t mat­ter because it’s not the ini­tials that mat­ter about RSS. It’s what you can do with it. The killer app for RSS is that it saves you time. I don’t know exactly how many web­sites I check each day. Well over three hun­dred. The reason I can do that is that I tend not to read from the web, I read RSS.
Continue read­ing

Photos, Flickr, RSS and Cataloging

Creative Commons
Culture is not a Crime. Photo (cc) Dawn Endico.

Following the undoc­u­mented Technorati feeds, it seems that Flickr also has some use­ful undoc­u­mented feeds. If you want to pull out the latest pho­tos tagged archae­ology from Flickr it’s fairly simple, you can just go to the archae­ology page and sub­scribe from there. However play­ing with the URL reveals that to pull the latest pho­tos licenced under a Creative Commons licence you only need add the l attrib­ute. So to get a tag type in:


This can be used to pro­duce a Creative Commons Archaeology photo feed. To get pho­tos for com­mer­cial use you simply change the l=cc to l=comm. This is how Unseen Treasures has sud­denly star­ted gain­ing pho­tos along with blog post titles.

Potentially this is very use­ful at it provides an easy way to list recent CC pho­tos in a eas­ily manip­u­lated man­ner. I’ve played around with Pipes to pro­duce this reformat­ted feed with lar­ger cop­ies of the pho­tos. This in turn can be fed into a copy of word­press auto­mat­ic­ally, pro­du­cing this site show­ing the latest pho­tos. At the moment it’s not that much use, but in the future it may be. The next iter­a­tion of WordPress is sched­uled to have tag­ging. If this is the case, and it’s sim­ilar to the UTW plu­gin then it could sud­denly become much more useful.

The draw­back with search­ing in Flickr is you have to have a very good idea of what you’re look­ing for AND for the photo sub­mit­ter also to have a good idea — and speak the same lan­guage. I was recently look­ing for images of women on black fig­ure pot­tery and for images of an aulêtris. The Chiron group should be a good source of pho­tos, but one prob­lem is that many fo the speak­ers have tagged the images in their own lan­guages. Not only should I have been look­ing for a woman, but also a mujer, femme and donna. I think insist­ing that Flickr tags all be in English would be a stu­pid idea, but nor can I add extra tags myself. A WordPress blog pick­ing CC licenced pho­tos should allow read­ers to tag the entries in the WordPress data­base, if not on Flickr. This would make the images blog an addi­tional assist­ant to search­ing the Flickr database.

At the moment I’m using a slightly mod­i­fied ver­sion of the FeedWordPress plu­gin. If or when WordPress has tag sup­port it shouldn’t be impossible to modify it fur­ther for it to store Flickr tags as tags in the WordPress data­base and allow read­ers to add more to make it more use­ful. The ques­tion is where to pull the pho­tos from? I could leave it poin­ted at the cre­at­ive com­mons licenced feeds. An altern­at­ive would be set up a group rather like Chiron for creative-commons licenced archae­ology pho­tos from around the globe.

I’ll be leav­ing images​.clioau​dio​.com run­ning till October to see how the sys­tem works. It should update every couple of hours, if there are new pho­tos for it to see. In the longer term I may take it down depend­ing on whether or not people think it’s use­ful. Comments are off on the images site, because if you want to com­ment on a photo you can click on it and leave a com­ment where the pho­to­grapher will see it. I’ll have to modify the tem­plate to explain that.

Anyway opin­ions on whether or not the sys­tem would be use­ful, or if there’s a bet­ter bit of soft­ware that could do the job are wel­come. I did look at Gallery 2, but I don’t think that can import from Flickr.