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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tech Talk: the power of feeds (and an IC video)

The CILASS tech group had a really interesting meeting today. Started out with planning for Friday's technology session that we'll be filming for upload to the website, then went on to discuss the recent developments in web platforms / streaming services etc. I find this kind of thing very exciting as I see enormous potential in it.

I'm really looking forward to picking up my podcast again and producing something a lot more interesting. Despite being pretty crappy at the moment and my posting no new episodes, I'm getting about 500 new subscribers every month, sustained growth. Imagine if this was a business - how much would I be paying to attract this kind of attention? I don't see myself as making money out of listeners, but rather, I see it as a case of using the podcast to promote whatever other projects I'm involved in which people may be interested in.



Other services I'm using and recommend for people interested in building up a web presence

I forget if I've mentioned it before but I've also started experimenting with Live Video Streaming via uStream (www.tamegoeswild.com/live), something else I'd like to use professionally in the future. Then there's Twitter (http://twitter.com/tamegoeswild), which I have mentioned before - essentially it's micro blogging, up to 140 characters per post.  Really been enjoying using that. It has tremendous potential, as when used with something like Twitterific it can also notify Facebook and update your Skype Status, meaning that you can get something out in seconds to hundreds (or thousands) of people. It's also really interesting observing how other people are using it, and how it affects ones own attitude towards being open to the world.

I also use tumblr, which is more than micro-blogging, but less than standard blogging. I have that reserved for quotes and things to be thankful for - updated via a dashboard widget for ease of use.

Finally, I've recently started using Friendfeed, which brings together all of the above and my YouTube Channel, and Flickr posts, into one single feed that is displayed on my facebook profile page (or can itself be subscribed to via RSS).

What I've come to appreciate is that these tools can be used as key elements of a marketing strategy. Yes, they require sustained input, but they needn't be all that disruptive and they are ultra-low cost, and, based on my exposure to other users, they're pretty effective in creating a buzz.



Another thing we were discussing was the idea that university should really be introducing students to things like RSS feeds (what is RSS?). RSS feeds can be such powerful learning tools, yet if you ask the average student what an RSS feed is, they probably wouldn't be able to tell you, (and through no fault of their own). 

I think I'm a bit of an RSS junkie though. I currently have 61 feeds in my reader, although about 40 of those are friend's blogs and other sites that are updated about once a month. The remainder focus upon: news from Japan; digital photography (that's how I'm learning Adobe Lightroom); business, inspiration and Lifehacks.

The great thing with RSS is it's so simple to subscribe and unsubscribe. Unlike email subscriptions you don't have that fear of being spammed - you can trial something, and if you don't like it you just remove the feed from your reader. YOU are in control. It's also good for producers, as you get a good idea of what size your audience is.

Aside from RSS, I think it would be good if the university made more use of 3rd party technologies, rather than relying upon expensive in-house development. 

Take the Catsters for example - here YouTube is being used to teach some pretty complex mathematics. Just looking at the comments on their channel shows how welcome this is.




Hmm, YouTube excites me, even when it's a mathematics channel.

Anyway, I reckon all this stuff is going to play a big part in my future. Quite how I don't know.

To finish off then I bring you a great little video of the Information Commons. If you're a Sheffield student the first minute or so is well worth a watch! 



I reckon we need a song like that for the Arts Tower - not just a video of how to get on the roof!

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3 Comments:

Blogger Joseph said...

Just found 10 Downing Street on Twitter!

10/4/08 06:14  
Anonymous Thomas said...

We added feeds to Newzbin a few years ago, they seem fairly popular, though we've never really bothered looking at how much. Time to grep some logs.

Between 11pm and 6am today, we served: 59642 RSS feeds, 20463 Atom feeds, and 3974 CSV feeds. That's over quarter of a million a day, and holy crap, people actually use CSV feeds (I guess these users have bespoke scripts using them). I wonder how many users actually use them, though; I bet it's a moderately small number of heavy users.

Feeds are something I keep not getting around to adding to my other sites. I guess I probably should.. it's not like I don't expect most places to have a feed icon in the address bar :)

Which reminds me; any chance of feeds for comments on individual pages here on TGW? Or, I guess, just a feed for comments in general? Make it easier to follow replies :)

10/4/08 14:18  
Blogger Joseph said...

crikey, that's a lotta feeds.

Yeah, I'd like to add feeds for comments, and I have tried in the past, but not hard enough as I didn't get it work. The usual blogger comments feeds thing doesn't work as I have changed the template so much, and never quite worked out what to put back in. Remind me after 4th June and I'll sort it!

10/4/08 16:54  

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