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news and thoughts on and around the development of the iCite net
by Jay Fienberg

Value-add feeds are like microcontent (lists and packages)

posted: Jul 8, 2003 11:02:19 PM

Don Park's Daily Habit, fortunately, continues to be a more than daily habit for Don with lots of good posts. Yesterday, Don linked to Gary Lawrence Murphy's post on Echos of RSS and pointed out its second part about value-added RSS feeds.

Not too long ago, I started talking about the iCite net being about feeds, lists and packages, which I am sure sounds totally bizarre if you can't instantly picture feeds, lists, and packages of data. But, this iCite thing I am into is about creating ways to easily package information, group it into lists, and make it all available as feeds that others can re-package and/or list.

Various folks have used the term microcontent to talk about what happens to be the nugget that is often being aggregated via RSS. (See Anil Dash's Introducing the Microcontent Client for background on this.) What I am looking at, and what I think Don and Gary are commenting on, is the feed of microcontent streams itself being used like microcontent: that is, where the feed is itself easy to reuse, refactor and add value to it.

As an example of the way I think about it: I want to take any RSS feed or any portion of any RSS feed, combine it with other RSS feeds, pieces of web pages, database info, metadata and identities, and package that both so others can feed it (via RSS) and/or themselves deconstruct, value-add and repackage it—often creating feeds of their results.

I think information is really an art—that is how it is different than data. I think "information management" is really data management or content management, and with information, one has to talk about information architecture and related forms of information artisanship and information artistry.

So, I think this whole microcontent thing, and what I see as a parallel with value-add feeds, among other things, is like developing motifs with information. What I think is todo next is develop fun ways to use those motifs together in larger works, and also to have easy ways to pull new motifs out of larger works.

I hope the iCite net will provide a nice set of instruments for doing these sorts of things specifically, and that, as such, it will harmonize (integrated into or be interoperative with) the microcontent tools that exist today.

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Comment by: garym ·
posted: Jul 8, 2003 11:40:11 PM

yes, that's it exactly, and it need not even be explicit. For example, if you look at my aggregated feeds on the news page of, the very fact of my linking them together into one of my nonsensical categories already provides that famous bit of metadata, "People who like X also like Y" so whether or not my categories fit someone else, there is still some sort of connection to be made between all those blogs I might call KM or edu-blogs. What's more, because I chose those few out of many, I've implicitly rated the feeds as somehow better than all those I didn't include (even if better only means I wasn't able to find the others) and if someone values my judgment, then my rating of a feed gains more value in their esteem when they subscribe to my aggregate (they can't yet, because Drupal doesn't yet re-RSS an aggregate, but I hope to provide it soon and have been asked about it). The same is true of blogrolls: If I respect a blog author, I'm more likely to check out their list of blogrolled sites than those I find on a site that turns me off, or those that look to be robot accumulations of every blog the author has ever seen. I've discovered many blogs this way, by the implicit recommendation of the metadata that this author liked them. I see your comments are like Radio, they provide no preview. My apologies if my em-elements are printed verbatim, and if they are stripped or obeyed, then please disregard this disclaimer ;)

Comment by: garym ·
posted: Jul 8, 2003 11:42:03 PM

Ah ... ok, not only do you accept em-elements, but I also see now that a blank line is not a para-break

I'll know better next time.

Comment by: Jay Fienberg ·
posted: Jul 9, 2003 12:55:34 AM

Thanks for your comments Gary, but sorry about how my blog displays them presently. I will be improving that over time so that all of your formatting comes through.

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