17 Oct 2008 02:06 am

Background reading

Lecture notes

Two major strands of discussion today:

  • feeds
  • mashup projects to be built from APIs

By walking through Chapter 4, I wanted everyone to think about both high level concepts but also see the need to work through the details in the privacy of their own homes and thought. Important points about feeds (Chapter 4):

  • there are many formats (RSS 2.0, 1.0, Atom) but same concept (XML formats + JSON)
  • ubiquity of feeds — lots of websites have them:  news sites, blogs, web publishing frameworks
  • a massive ecosystem around feeds — very worthwhile studying as a model for other computational ecosystems.
  • Yahoo! Pipes as a tool to mashup feeds — very useful to understand basic concepts around feeds.

We walked through examples of RSS 2.0, RSS 1.0, and Atom 1.0.   I demonstrated how to use feedvalidator.org (e.g., to validate a RSS 2.0 file).

I spent a fair amount of time showing how to use Yahoo! Pipes.  First is a basic one that geocodes the NY Times World section RSS feed and get as KML that can in turn be sent to a Google Map.  I then walked through the examples at the end of Chapter 4. (e.g., Yahoo! Pipes output on Hurricane Katrina articles from Yahoo! News) and Pipes: Google News, Yahoo! News, Wikinews, NY Times National News by search term


I assigned Mixing and Remixing Information » Project Proposal Format, due Monday, Feb 23 at 11pm.

Notes that might be helpful to students thinking about project ideas:

Articles I passed around

(in keeping with the open government theme and ideas around the Sunlight Foundation Apps for America competition):


  1. Create a single Google Map out of two feeds: 1) the feed of the SF Gate Food and Dining section and 2) Yelp! reviews close to Berkeley. (Hint: use Yahoo! Pipes and location extractor).
  2. Write a paragraph on how feeds might be able to help you accomplish one of your project ideas. Bonus:  Create a prototype of project idea with Yahoo! Pipes
  3. Make a NPR feed that you can load up in iTunes, say on Elizabeth Warren.
  4. Read Chapter 6 on the Flickr API.
  5. Bonus: Create a feed of the current courses:  http://www.ischool.berkeley.edu/programs/courses by using the Fetch Page Module.

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