How to Automatically Build Your Feed List, Part I

How to Automatically Build Your Feed List, Part I

News feeds (or RSS feeds, as they’re sometimes called) are a great way to keep up-to-date with the latest from your favorite web sites. Be it news, blog posts, tweets, search queries and more – most of the content out there is available as a news feed.

Rather than having to “pull” new information by each time visiting browsing your top sites all over the Web, you can use a Feed Reader application to subscribe to your favorite sites’ feeds. The Feed Reader will periodically fetch the latest feeds from all your sites and “push” the new content to you as it is published.

Feed readers are nice (my favorite is Google Reader, even Microsoft Outlook reads feeds), but they have a few problems. One of the annoying things about feed readers is that you have to manually “subscribe” to new feeds if you want the reader to fetch them for you – it’s sort of like having to bookmark your favorite sites, only more of a pain. And keeping your feed list updated with new sites you’ve discovered, removing feeds you’re not interesting in anymore and various other maintenance chores can get pretty tedious. I know my bookmarks are in pretty rough shape, and my feed list is even worse.

Here at Genieo Innovation, we help fight information overload by bringing you only the content that’s relevant to you. We wanted to use news feeds to get some of this information from your favorite web sites, since they’re a widely supported industry standard, but we didn’t want to require you to maintain tedious feed lists and filters. So we’ve developed a system that allows us to build your feed list automatically – no participation is required on your part.

So how does it work? You browse web sites, which are made of HTML pages. Some HTML pages contain a special link that points to a news feed with related content. Many web sites, although not all, use these special links. Browsers like Firefox or Internet Explorer even display a special button when they find these links, allowing you to easily view and subscribe to these feeds.

So imagine what would happen if a small application (say, a browser addon) would make a note of all these feed links, as you’re browsing the Web. You’d end up with a list of all the feeds from all your favorite web sites! No extra work on your part whatsoever.

But this approach presents a few problems. Perhaps the biggest problem is that a lot of the feeds on this list might not be truly interesting for you. Wikipedia’s most recent changes, for example, is not something I care to be updated about, even though I browsed many pages that link to it. So how do we figure out which feeds are actually important to you? More on that in a future post. In the meanwhile, happy feeding!
By: Amos Yoffe, Genieo Core Development
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About the Author

Amos Yoffe is a software developer at Genieo Innovation Ltd. Besides personalization products, Amos is passionate about smartphones, and is a winner of Google's Android Developer's Challenge. He holds a B.Sc in Computer Science and Jewish Philosophy from the Hebrew University Jerusalem and is an avid long-distance runner.