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July 25, 2010 / Rick Martin

An RSS hack for hacks

or

How to hack together an RSS feed of your freelance work

Occasionally I contribute to The Japan Times, and this is one of the few opportunities that I get to see my name in print with the exception of my electricity and water bills. Naturally, I’d like to be able to let friends (read ‘Mom’) subscribe to my latest articles — but to my knowledge there are no author-specific RSS feeds on the Times’ website*. So I thought I’d hack one up.

The process is pretty simple. Just bookmark your articles on Delicious.com with a memorable tag, like ‘rickjapantimes’ or something similar using your own name and publication(s). If you then visit the link for your tag…

http://www.Delicious.com/yourname/yourtag

…you can scroll to the bottom and grab the RSS feed for that individual tag:

http://feeds.delicious.com/v2/rss/yourname/yourtag?count=15

Of course this feed looks a little messy, so you can go a step further and run it through Feedburner.com and give it a specific title and URL (I made http://feeds.feedburner.com/RickMartinJapanTimes). If you contribute to a number of publications, you can easily display these feeds on your blog or samples page so that potential employers can easily find your work. It’ll be a little tedious trying to remember to bookmark your articles after you’ve published them. But it does work.

A somewhat crude but effective hack, perhaps useful to some old hacks out there.

* Note: The Times does have author pages for regular contributors, which might be good enough in the future given that some news readers these days can create an RSS feed where there is none (Google Reader, for example).

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7 Comments

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  1. Durf / Aug 13 2010 5:48 pm

    I should probably do this for my work as well. Using Delicious for it makes sense, so of course I am going and trying something totally different, playing with the blog I have here on WordPress.com as a way to track these things. Thanks for the idea.

  2. Rick Martin / Aug 13 2010 6:04 pm

    Using WordPress posts is fine too. If you did want feeds for those categories, you should be able to display them using WordPress’ built-in category feeds.

  3. Our Man in Abiko / Aug 21 2010 2:03 am

    A word of warning though, a lot of newspaper sites clean out their virtual morgues every year or so, the JT included I understand, so just because you have alink to it it may vanish into the ether. It may not though, as Our Man knows next to nothing about the stitching of the net.

    • Rick Martin / Aug 21 2010 7:34 am

      @OurManinAbiko Yes, I ran into this problem on CNet, as both my China and Japan blogs are now replaced by new bloggers. Both are still online, but who knows for how long, but who knows for how long.

      My suggested remedy there is to grab full-page screenshot of your best work. The Google chrome extension Awesome Screenshot is, as advertised, pretty awesome. You can then throw the screenshots on your own server, or host them on your own server. I prefer to serve them from my public Dropbox folder, like so.

  4. Richard Smart / Aug 21 2010 2:35 am

    Yeah – there is a lot of risk. I think there was a site that allows journalists to present their PDFs online. In the future, something like that may be the way that things go, rather than links to online content. There is also an argument for allowing journalists to publish their (edited on nonedited) work online once a media org decides to take it down from their sites.

    On the Japan Times, the prez said in an article entitled (ahem) “The newspaper business still has a few years left here” that she wants the net to stay free for consumers. You have to hope that also means not cutting out a portion of the archive. http://www.fccj.or.jp/node/2993 The entire interview is worth a read, particularly give that it was written three years ago, and includes some comments that maybe don’t paint to pretty a picture now.

    “Your internet archive is a fantastic resource, and a free one at that. Is it going to stay free?
    My philosophy right now on that is yes. I y other sites around us that are trying to charge, and it doesn’t seem to really quite work. What we need to do is raise our page views, visibility and search-ability. Web 2.0 now is all about networking, being available. We might charge companies, but I think ‘free for consumers’ is going to be the model.”

    • Rick Martin / Aug 21 2010 8:03 am

      Re: “Your internet archive is a fantastic resource”

      The interviewer meant here that it’s a fantastic resource for readers. But in my opinion if a website’s architecture is properly designed, the archive should be a valuable asset for the publisher as well, driving traffic to the site and bringing eyes to content young and old.

      Storage space is cheap these days. Why even purge at all? I mean, if you’re a publisher who has paid a writer to produce content, why would you then go an flush it into oblivion erasing all your past investment.

      As I said before, websites need to repurpose old news. Stijn Debrouwere said it even better:

      “A piece of news just doesn’t generate enough value on its day of birth to be worth the expense.”

      Some effort needs to be made to ensure that it does. This is why I like filters and maps so much.

      Having said all that, perhaps the archives are one of the few places where a media org can get away with constructing a paywall without public backlash.

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  1. OK, I have an idea. « Durf@WordPress

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