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Laura Gibbs

An Open Hub for NTPoC Built with Inoreader

8 min read

Okay, I've created an "hub" using Inoreader, which is an RSS aggregator (like Feedly, if you use Feedly), but which also does so much more, pulling in content from social networks like Twitter and Google+ and then sending that content back out in the form of customized RSS feeds and/or HTML webpages.

Right now (Thursday afternoon, July 30), it looks a bit weird because instead of displaying most recent content first, everything is all jumbled up because I just now set up NTPoC today. Now that it is set up, though, the newest items should start appearing in the RSS feed and in the HTML display.

Since the theme of Unit 3 is openness, I am excited to have these OPEN streams of NTPoC activity available now in both HTML and RSS.

Wait, slow down... what do you mean... RSS feed? HTML?

Okay, yes, I know I need to slow down and explain. Some people may not be using RSS right now, and even if you use a typical RSS reader, Inoreader is an entirely different (and more amazing) creature, so let me explain about the HTML and RSS.

HTML and RSS NTPoC Feeds

For the HTML, just take a look at the rendering of the HTML page that I linked to above: is my domain, and I just quickly put up an HTML page there; you could do that yourself using the Inoreader HTML clippings page and putting it in your own page if you want. (I just put that raw Inoreader page inside another one where I could add some notes on top, links, etc.)

If you scroll on down, what you will see are the contributions to NTPoC that are coming in from blog posts, Google+ posts, and Twitter tweets. It displays 50 on a page (I could configure that to be more or less, no problem), and when you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you'll find a link for the next 50, and then the next 50, and so on. 

If you click on the hyperlinked title of an item in the stream, it will take you to the original location of the item, showing you the person's blog, the Twitter conversation, the Google+ conversation, etc. So, definitely click when you see something that interest you, and you can explore the source and context.

The HTML page is good for a quick browse, but it is far more powerful to subscribe to the RSS feed instead, which you can do with Feedly or with any other aggregator. Inoreader is the aggregator I use, but Feedly works just fine for reading, as do other RSS aggregators. Here is the feed: NTPoC RSS.

If you open that RSS link in Firefox, you'll get a nicely rendered view, but in other browsers you'll just see a lot of scary-looking code, but don't worry: the idea is that you put the RSS address into Feedly and it will render very nicely.

RSS for Managing Information... LOTS of Information

In my opinion, anybody who wants to keep up with the world of educaton online can benefit from using an RSS aggregator to manage the MOUNTAINS of great information that will pile up as you connect with other educators. With an RSS aggregator, you can manage incoming information the way you manage email with your email reader. Things are marked as read or unread, you can put things in folders, you can star things that are important, etc. etc. The specific features available in the different RSS aggregators vary, and the reason I like Inoreader is that it is the most feature-rich and powerful, giving me all kinds of features (like rules and filters, for example) that make it as easy to manage incoming blog posts with the same strategies I use to manage email.

NTPoC Feed: Details

Okay: where does all that stuff in the NTPoC feed come from?

What you are seeing are all the items in my personal Inoreader account that are tagged "NTPoC." Some of those tags are assigned automatically, and some are assigned by me. Here is how I get all that stuff into Inoreader:

* Dedicated subscriptions in a folder: I subscribed to the blogs that have dedicated NTPoC content. That is my own Known blog (specifically the posts labeled ), plus Rob's Learning Lot blog, and the Power of Connections blog which Rob and Stacy are sharing (and which has a few posts from me also). I would love to have some more blogs to add! More about that below.

* Search all subscriptions: Inoreader looks at ALL the content I am subscribed to (which includes incoming stuff from blogs, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and Facebook) to see if "NTPoC" shows up anywhere, and it automatically tags those finds

* Search social networks: Inoreader also searches all of Google+ and all of Twitter for more NTPOC... this creates a lot of redundancy with the content I am already subscribed to, but I am running that layer of search just in case things pop up from people I am not already subscribed to. How great it would be if more things started popping up...! I check to see if there is anything new here, and add NTPoC tag as needed. 

Now, there might be some duplication (especially because people often post on multiple networks; I often do that), and I might also miss something (which is why it is actually great that people crosspost on multiple networks: second chances to see things). Over time, I get a good feel for how to curate a stream, adjusting my own procedures along with the Inoreader set-up to get this finely tuned. I wish I had set this up at the beginning of NTPoC, but it's set up now and I'm curious to see what we can do with these last weeks of the class.

NTPoC: Jump in the stream! 

So, if you want to READ what's in the NTPoC stream, I'd suggest subscribing to the RSS feed with Feedly (very user-friendly) or you might want to give Inoreader a try. Both have fantastic free services (Inoreader has some premium services also, but the free version is great). 

And, even better, if you would like to CONTRIBUTE to the stream, there are some easy ways to do that based on what your own online preferences:

TWITTER. Just add the hashtag to your tweet. It will show up automatically in the Twitter widget at the Power of Connections blog, and it will also show up in the NTPoC stream. (For notes about getting started with Twitter, see the link below.)

GOOGLE+. If you add the hashtag to a G+ post, Inoreader will see your post, and I'll then tag it and add it to the stream, which means I'll get to read your post, which is exciting for me! (Google+ is a kind of odd social network; if you are not already using Google+, I'd suggest starting out with Twitter and/or a blog isntead.)

BLOG. If you are using a blog, you need to let me know to subscribe. You can use an existing blog and label your posts NTPoC (and I will subscribe just to that label), or you can create a new blog just for this purpose. If you don't already have a blogging service that you use, is a very easy free service from Google, and there is also, along with many more. If you want to try Blogger, here are the tips I share with my students: Getting Started with Blogger.

To let me know you have a blog post for NTPoC, just tweet the address of your blog post and include my Twitter handle @OnlineCrsLady in the tweet ... or leave me a message at Google+ ... or leave a comment at this blog post... or send me an email. Once I have the link to your post, I'll subscribe to your blog! I'll also write you back to let you know I got your blog address. If you don't hear from me that day or the next, contact me again (I have houseguests in the coming days, so I won't be online as much as usual).

So... I hope people will want to give open participation a try! When you contribute your ideas and creativity to the open Internet, you are making it a more educational Internet for EVERYONE, not just for the people in whatever class you are taking. 

If you are curious about my own thoughts re: openness and sharing in general, and about Twitter in particular (such a fun and easy way to get online!), I gave two online talks earlier this summer at the Upgrading Online Conference, and you might find the materials useful:

Upgrading Online: Keynote

Upgrading Online: Twitter


See you online.........!!! And thanks, as always, to Inoreader for their absolutely AMAZING service.