Getting a RSS feed for a Delicious tag

I keep having to refer back to how I have done this in the past because it is not obvious within Delicious how to do this, unless you start to dig around the developers documentation. So, I am posting this here in case anyone else needs to get the RSS feed for a Delicious tag.

I’ll get to why you may want to do this in a minute, but first the meat of the post.

To pull an RSS feed for a tag, the url pattern is:<insert tag here>?count=10

So, for example, to pull an RSS feed of the last 10 resources tagged moodle, the url would look like:

That will pull an RSS feeds of the latest 10 resources tagged with the keyword “moodle”. If you want more or less resources, you simply change the number 10 to whatever number you want in your feed.

If you want to track a different tag, simply replace the word moodle with whatever tag you want to follow. So, if you want to track the last 20 resources tagged “pln”, for example, the feed would look like this:

Now, why would you want to do this? Well, one of the things I like to do is monitor Delicious for new items that are tagged by the community, but I don’t want to have to go to Delicious to see what is newly tagged for whatever topic I am tracking. What I like to do is pull an RSS feed into a site I already check everyday (actually multiple times a day) – my Netvibes page, which is my personal dashboard.

Here is what the Moodle example above looks like on my Netvibes Moodle tab:

The widget is in the top left corner of my Moodle tab, which is in context with all the other Moodle resources I am tracking on the web. Now whenever someone tags a resources with the keyword “moodle” in Delicious, it will appear in this widget, in context with all the other Moodle resources I am gathering.



What good is a network if I can't find what I need?

Useless at the moment

As I have written before, the social bookmarking tool Delicious was one of the most useful social web applications for me. Sure it was convenient to store my bookmarks on the web, but the real power of the application was that I could build a network of people – trusted sources – and see what they were bookmarking as well.

Many of the people I connected with on Delicious were trying to solve the same problems I was, or working on the same platforms as me, so when they shared a bookmark, it was almost always relevant.

But the true power of Delicious wasn’t the real time stream of relevant information I got from my trusted network of 50 or so contacts. No, the real value in building that network came when I needed to find information to solve a problem. When I needed a recommendation, I would go to Delicious ahead of Google and search my network for their recommendations, and would almost always find a few network recommended resources.

A few months ago I started volunteering with my local community association, helping them with their WordPress site, setting up a Twitter account & Facebook page and other assorted web tasks. Tonight I went to find a WordPress plugin to auto-post blog posts to the Twitter feed. I have used Twitter Tools in the past and have liked it, but when I went to install it got a notice that it wasn’t supported in this version of WordPress. Rather than install an unsupported plugin, I wondered what else was out there.

Off to Delicious to see what my network recommends. Only what’s this? I can’t search my networks bookmarks anymore? Seriously???? I mean, I get we’re all into the real-time web these days, but there is something to be said for having a ready made archive of content waiting for me, vetted by people I trust, that I can search when I need.

I am bummed. One of the most powerful features of a social web application – a feature that I used quite a bit in the past – gone. Or at least buried so deep in the new interface that I can’t seem to find it. The entire collective intelligence and wisdom of MY crowd now inaccessible to me.

Please, if someone knows a way to search a Delicious network, let me know cause right now Delicious is leaving a mighty sour taste in my mouth.

Photo: Useless at the Moment by quinn.anya used under Creative Commons license


Delicious – the place I got it

Delicious is dead.

Er, sorry. Delicious is in the sunset column.

I don’t know if I could write a better eulogy to Delicious than Marshall has at ReadWriteWeb. He hit on so many points and ways in which the service was so valuable to so many people. Me included.

I started experimenting with Delicious in 2005 after hearing a hallway conversation between Scott Leslie and another of my BCcampus coworkers at the time. They were talking about these things called folksonomy and tagging. I was intrigued.

Delicious was the place where so much of the Web 2.0 world first made sense to me. With Delicious, I got it. I got the power of networks. I got social learning. I got tagging. I got the cloud. I got transparency. I got open. I got web as tool. I got what a “social” network was, even though I was still years away from joining Facebook or Twitter. Delicious armed me with enough conceptual knowledge of what a social network was that I was able to scaffold that knowledge and easily “get” the value of Facebook and Twitter when they arrived a few years later.

Today I kinda feel like when AOL announced they were killing Netscape; a kind of melancholy sadness at the passing of something that was once so great.

But what makes this different from Netscape is that Delicious is still great and remains one of the most valuable tools in my network. It did what it did extremely well. Sure there was the convenience of storing your bookmarks on the web and having them accessible from anywhere, but that wasn’t the real value of Delicious for me. The real value is its transparency in that I am able to see what my network is bookmarking. Delicious gives me a glimpse into what they found important on the web. What they bookmarked helped me focus my attention on what was important. It helped me learn. Delicious was a small piece of social learning in action. I was observing skilled practitioners in my field through their bookmarks, and was able to follow their links and find out why they felt this article or this link was important to them.

Oh sure, there is that Twitter thing where links are shared all the time.  But Delicious is different. Beyond the realtime stream of what my network is bookmarking at the moment, I also had access to everything they had ever bookmarked in the past. Through the Delicious search engine, I was able to search through hundreds of  thousands of links curated by the members of my network. The people who I connect with in Delicious are dealing with the same problems, questions and challenges that I do. When I needed to recommend a new tool for a job, I would go to my Delicious network first and search what my network had squirreled away there. Being able to have access to this collected archive of links vetted by people I trusted? Invaluable.

Rarely did a conversation happen “on Delicious”. It wasn’t that kind of social network. It was a lurkers paradise. Not that I didn’t contribute. I bookmarked and annotated, passively adding to the collective knowledge (so I hoped) of my network.

Yeah, I know Diigo is there. That is probably where I will end up. But I always found Diigo too heavy, too feature rich. In Delicious, there was simplicity. It was the journeyman of Web 2.0 tools. Dependable, gets the job done, no nonesense. But yet flexible enough that you could mash it and collaborate in numerous ways.

In some respects, Delicious is just a tool. I mean, I still have those connections, and I can and will recreate them in other venues and services. My network will survive. I’ll find ways to continue doing what I do. That’s what distributed networks do. Survive thermonuclear bombs to rebuild and thrive again. But it was this tool (and, more specifically, the architects of this tool) who taught me so much about how the web works that calling it “just a tool” seems cheap and demeaning. It deserves more respect from me than that. A shovel is a tool. Delicious was disruptive and changed my view of how things worked.

Sometimes it IS about the technology. And I can’t give it much higher praise than that.


Change usernames in your Delicious network

Delicious was the first of the current breed of Web 2.0 social networks I signed up for. In retrospect, I wish it was one of the last because one of the things I didn’t quite realize then that I fully get now is that in order for these social tools to work their magic, you have to be found. And that means your name.

My Delicious name is the very unfortunate WindTech. At the time, I was heavy into freelance work with my own company, called Wind (which had nothing to do with weather, but that is another story), hence the WindTech.

Well, Wind has come and gone, but unfortunately the name WindTech has stuck on my Delicious account. I wish I could simply change it, but in Delicious, you cannot change your username. I would have to delete my account and create a new one, but that means rebuilding my network. The name doesn’t bug me that much.

But even though I cannot change my name, you can if I am in your network. A tweet from Delicious a few days ago let me know that you can now change the display names of people in your network. So, while I cannot change WindTech to Clint Lalonde, if you are in my delicious network at least you can so I appear as a real person as opposed to some semi-corporate entity in your network.

Since then I have learned the authenticity lesson of social networking – be yourself. So now when I sign up for a social network I am now me – Clint Lalonde.

Er, except on where I am MondoCanuck. That was social network #2.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Google's new search results feel more than a bit like social bookmarking

Updated November 22: Since writing this post, Google has turned this feature off and made it an opt-in service through Google Experimental Search.

Update November 24: aaaaaand it’s back.

Last night I noticed a couple of new options on Google search results.

Just to the right of the title of the result are two boxes that allow you to Promote or Remove a result from the search. These choices are then saved and, if you perform the same search in the future, your preferred selections bubble to the top while results you choose to remove as not relevant are removed.

Also new is the ability to annotate the search results, essentially giving you a way to create saved lists of your favorite search results with annotations.

Google calls this new service SearchWiki, but really I think the new features have more in common with social bookmarking sites like delicious or Diigo than wiki’s. Sure, you don’t get the customization or network granularity of  delicious or Diigo when it comes to defining your personal network, but certainly the ability to create a highly relevant lists of annotated links using keyword tags is right up the social bookmarking alley. And I suspect it won’t be very long before you will be able to share your search results and annotations with selected Google users.

Google has said this doesn’t affect the results PageRank rankings, but you have to think it will only be a matter of time before the wisdom of the crowds approach wins out and the data collected as a result of peoples choices will be worked into search results or, most likely, the ads that appear with my search results. Not all think this is a good thing, but ultimately making search results more relevant to me is highly desirable.

I think the feature that will prove to be the most disruptive is annotation. Overnight Google has turned their search engine into one gigantic comment engine. Now anyone can add comments about any web resource and make those comments open for the world to see. Talk about transparency. Now that Google has thrown their collective weight behind annotating the web, and made it dead easy to do so, expect the conversation to get a whole lot more interesting as more people take part.


A simple mashup for D2L using Yahoo Pipes and Feed2JS

Mash delicious, d2l, pipes, feed2js

One of the features I like about Desire2Learn is the ability to create custom widgets within the LMS. I’ve just finished creating a custom external resources widget for our faculty based on feeds of some of our course developers and it was a snap to incorporate it into D2L. Here’s how I did it.

The Scenario

In addition to myself, there are 2 other developers at my institution who, among other tasks, actively support faculty using D2L. We wanted to create a custom widget of external Desire2Learn resources for our faculty to give them access to resources other institutions have put together. Instead of creating a page of static links, we decided to use our accounts to create a dynamic reference library that would automatically grow and update as we added d2l related links to our delicious accounts.

One problem was that we all tagged resources slightly differently in, so we needed to standardize our tagging convention. We decided to use the general tag of “d2l” to designate a resource we wanted to share in the widget.

With that non technical piece out of the way, I began to work on merging the three feeds into one.

Mashing up feeds in Yahoo Pipes

PipesI decided to use Yahoo Pipes for no other reason other than I am familiar with it and wanted to get something put together quickly. Since we are all networked in, it was quite easy to go to my colleagues accounts, click on their “d2l” tag and grab an RSS feed of that tag.

Once I had the RSS for all three accounts, I was able to begin creating a new pipe.

The first step in creating a new pipe is to specify the source of the data. In this case, it is the 3 RSS feeds from delicious, so I dragged a Fetch Feed module into the pipes work area and enter the 3 RSS URI’s.

I noticed that we had all tagged some of the same resources, so I needed to do a bit of data cleaning. Enter the Unique Operator, which allowed me to filter out duplicate links that appeared in the mashup. Now I had a unique list of links.

The one other thing I noticed was that both of my colleagues had added and tagged our institutions local instance of Desire2Learn in their delicious accounts. Since the final product of this feed was going to be within a widget inside that instance, I decided to filter out the url to our institutions Desire2Learn instance using the Filter Operator.

I now have a mashup outputting a single RSS feed created from 3 source feeds. The next step is turning that RSS feed into a Javascript snippet that I can use in the D2L widget. A great future enhancement for the widgets in D2L would be the ability to import RSS feeds. Right now you are limited to HTML and Javascript, which is what we are going to use.


There are tons of great tools that you can use to convert your RSS feed into Javascript. For this project I used Feed2JS.

I took the RSS feed from the Pipe output and plugged it into Feed2JS. Feed2JS gives you a number of options to tweak the behaviour of the feed. I truncate the feed at 15 and choose to open the links in a new window to avoid taking the faculty out of D2L when they click on a link. I click on “Generate Javascript” and voila, I have a nice chunk of Javascript ready for embedding into a D2L widget.

D2L widget

D2L Final WidgetThe final step in the process is to copy the Javascript code and create a custom widget in D2L.

In D2L I created a new widget in the “Manage Homepages” area. After giving the widget a title, I decided to share the widget with other faculty members who may want to use it for themselves in their own courses, so I choose the share option in the Admin tab.

Since I only want faculty to see this widget, i set the release conditions to teacher. Finally, in the custom code tab I paste the JavaScript code I generated at Feed2JS and save the widget.

Once I have created the widget, I can then go into our Faculty Community course and add the widget to the homepage of the course. Now, whenever faculty enter the community, they will see the widget with the most recent resources our work group has tagged in delicious.

Reading through this it seems like a bit of work to create the mashup. But in reality it took me much longer to write this article than to actually create the mashup. All in all from start to finish it took me less than 15 minutes to create what will hopefully be a valuable resource for our faculty.


Delicious gets a makeover (and drops the dots), the social software I probably use the most, is undergoing a facelift and, for such a simple interface, it’s headache inducing to see how the team went about the redesign. 2.000 post it notes on a whiteboard. Yikes! I thought my whiteboard was a mess.

One enhancement is the addition of the the url You can still reach the site using the now famous url, but by adding the domain name it should help ease url confusion for newcomers. On more than once occasion when I show off the software to people, I have had users adding a .com to the url and ending up at some default landing page.

I’m hoping the search engine is much faster, as has been reported. I’ve been frustrated, and somewhat baffled, by the slow speed of the search engine, considering that Delicious is owned by Yahoo, which should know a thing or tow about optimizing search engines.

The new design is still in beta, but you can get some details and screenshots on Webware.