Monday, 21 April 2003

Content aggregation by topic

One of the vaguely neat things behind the scenes in LSblog is that each post has a topic attached to it, each of which is mapped to an Open Directory topic. Now if you’re just reading the site from the home page, this makes absolutely no difference in your life; the fun part is if you take one of the RSS 2.0 feeds and start aggregating the content into something bigger. The Open Directory topic information in the feed allows you to take my topic namespace and map it into a more universal namespace.

What is the potential upside of this? One thing you could do is create a “virtual group blog” based on full-content RSS feeds. For example, you could build something like the Command Post, but without the administrative overhead of setting up a dedicated Movable Type (or Blogger or LSblog or whatever) installation; just scrape the RSS feeds of the contributors, looking for posts matching Society/Issues/Warfare_and_Conflict/Specific_Conflicts/Iraq. Similarly you could aggregate all the content from a number of blogs that’s under the Open Directory’s Science/Social_Sciences/Political_Science into a political science scholar-blog. (You could also do this at the level of your own RSS aggregator, to create a topic-centered rather than author-centered view of weblog content.)

Another possibility would be to make searches more fine-grained. Feedster has a “war filter”; how about a Mississippi politics filter?

Where to go from here? At some point, integrating the existing framework with ENT seems like it might be necessary; I’m hoping someone else will do the translation from the Open Directory’s XML into OPML so I don’t have to do it myself. I’d also like to build a RSS aggregator backend into LSblog.