Michael Aaronson MD
Readers: Learn How to Like Friends Who Microblog
Using RSS Feeds. Authors: Learn How to Setup Your Feed on the Go using
the HTML Anchor Tag.
magnify. Picture of Mozilla Firefox's Live Bookmarks option to subscribe to feeds using RSS. You "subscribe." If it were facebook, you would "friend" or "like." If it were Twitter, you would "follow." All these words are similar because the effect of the action is the same: you follow individual articles from a person or company that you like.
Follow Dr. Michael Aaronson's Microblog with an RSS reader. Like Him. Become his friend. Tweet about him. Consider also subscribing to his main blog. Add other friends to the list of RSS feeds. Finally, set up your own RSS feed so that people can follow you. By the time you have finished this article, you will be able to do these things.
Sparse rss is an android feed reader that you can download from google play for free.
The press loves facebook and twitter. Follow this, like that, yadda-yadda-yadda. But are these products really that great? Are there any stylistic issues one might have using these different services? Although important and addressed in my prior blogs, let's ignore the privacy issues and concerns that have been raised and instead focus on the "workflow" of the products. Please note: I'm attempting to perform an objective analysis from the "heart of my bottom" -- MORRISSEY. My purpose here is demonstrate to you why microblogging may be preferred over the current options.
Let's start with Facebook. Here is a random shot of my Facebook page, shown for educational purposes.
Busy, busy. Really busy, right? I log on and get to be annoyed by 17 notifications (top left) that have no value. "Invites" to play this and "for your consideration" to like that are prevalent. At least 5 seconds are spent clearing that Tshi. I supposedly have a few thousand friends. Are these people really my friends? Do they know me? Do I know them? Not so much.
Since I talked about the horrible customer service at the Verizon store near Lakeside hospital in a recent blog, and spent time researching the company, Google, Bing, and Facebook mistakenly "think" I'm enamored with the company, and show me incessant advertisements which end up having the paradoxical effect of my disliking them more than I already do.
I'm ready to blog my life. I search for the spot where I can opine. It's so small I can barely find it! Eventually I spot the location, barely visible to the unassisted eye. You might be asking yourself: why did this happen? I opine that as these companies are pressured to monetize, the good stuff gets marginalized so that the ads can fill the page.
That said, it is not only the sponsor who monopolizes the experience. Some consumers are just as guilty. All of these chat room / social networking sites have egregious people who over-tweet such that the experience of enjoying what the other friends have to say gets diluted in the nonsense of that particular individual who monopolizes all of our feeds. You know what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the person who posts every 5 minutes with another quote or thought or joke... These people are so annoying! Look, I get that you are trying to stay at the top of the feed for the purpose of exposure and the "Look at me! Look at me! Don't look at him!" effect, but give some of the other people a place in the sun! My small number of tweets almost never get seen because I am a believer of showing courtesy to others, self-restraint, and professionalism -- as you might be. Here is the worst part, unless I ban the person, when I try to unfriend them, I just get friended right back!
Isn't there a better organizational structure which can be implemented so that we can ignore these big mouths and go to them if/when we want to? In fact, there is. It is called microblogging, and I have addressed the basics of this concept in the past. (Read more: Create your very own Twitter- Facebook Alternative Microblog. Here's How!) This blog takes the concept a few steps further showing you how to operationalize the process so you can have an outstanding social media experience.
Most people don't know the difference between a blog and a microblog. They really are not the same. I consider a microblog a snippet of information, a funny happenstance, a cool pic that doesn't fit well into the prim and proper, formal approach to a blog. For example, when I gave birth to Teaching doctors patient satisfaction. Why it fails, I showed a picture of Baby Aaronson dancing to Gangnam Style to demonstrate that my 1 year old loves the poor quality, but highly satisfying music. For added value, and for the fun of it, my microblog, shows a JibJab, YouTube video of Baby's head on Psy's body singing Gangnam style. It's silly, but perfect for a microblog.
Notice how "clean" and "well kept" the microblog is. You get the date, the title, and a description. Pictures and videos can be included. It's insanely great! Notice how streamlined the microblog is.
But you can't have it both ways. If you have 1000 friends who microblog, and you wish to follow what they have to say, you would have to load 1000 pages to see what's up with your friends or the companies you have liked. That's where the rss feed comes into play. RSS feeds tell you when a microblogger (or a regular blogger) has posted something new. For example, notice in the Sparse RSS feed reader pic above that I'm following 2 blogs: my blog and my microblog. When something new pops up, the title of the feed bolds for emphasis. The reader is an efficient way to follow a large group of people's thoughts.
Sparse RSS has many options available to personalize your experience reading others microblogs. It really saves you lots of time. And saving time can make you money by increasing your productivity, allows more time spent with family, and at the end of the day makes a lot of sense.
Notice how Sparse RSS allows you to add a feed such as my microblog: http://michaelaaronsonmd.pagekite.me/rss-microblog.xml <-- you would copy and paste this link into the "Add feed" box when prompted. You can refresh when you want, or you can automate the process. Moreover, you can mark posts as read even if you didn't read them all. The program is very powerful.
The approach is a great way to focus on what and who I want to follow, what and who I can avoid, etc. For example, let's take the guy who posts 100 times a day. By having the ability to organize all of his posts into 1 feed that I don't have to look at if I don't want to, I have the ability to marginalize the problem. The clever approach deincentivizes the poster to continue the shenanigans. Why? If his posts are basically SSDD (Same Stuff, Different Day), most will avoid this hemorrhoid altogether. In that setting, it is quite conceivable that the person will change his approach so that he offers something of value in order to be seen. Problem solved!
The rss file just displays text as a teaser to motivate you to go to my actual blog or microblog. It doesn't allow graphics or videos. It is possible to place ads within a feed, and I'm sure as this concept reaches critical mass in the future, many people will place ads within the feed to possibly make some money. And that's fine. The choice is now up to the individual, not the sith lords.
So our next step is for me to teach you how to create a rss feed so that your posts/tweets can be followed. This is not hard to do. Once set up, posting is very fast. To facilitate the learning curve, I have provided a template version of my microblog's rss feed:
Download the rss-microblog template in zip format here for free (released under the GNU GPL version 2).
Let's dissect the source code so that you can "copy and paste" your tweets or posts with ease. We start first with the microblog tweet: (please note that the following code is copied and pasted from my 1/1/13 microblog post. To see what these look like, consider going to the microblog page and viewing. Also consider checking out what the RSS feed looks like in the setting of your RSS feed reader du jour.
- <a id="01/01/13"></a>
- <div id="microblog_what_section">01/01/13 Happy Microblogging. </div>
- <div class="microblog_content_text">Don't
leave it all unsaid, somewhere in the wasteland of your head.
MORRISSEY <br /></div>
We will explain, line by line, what the user needs to change. For clarity, the download above is in template form, so all you need to do is modify a few things and you are good to go. Also, the numbers are not in the template because I added them for descriptive purposes.
Line 1: "a" stands for anchor. This is the place-holder by which the RSS feed knows where to find your post. Change the 01/01/13 date to the date of your post.
Line 2: the date and the title of the blog go here. Cut and paste, or just edit.
Line 3: the description goes here. It is that easy!
Next we have to make the "tweet" followable by adding the following code to the RSS feed.
- <lastBuildDate>Wed, 02 Jan 2013 03:29:56 GMT</lastBuildDate>
- <pubDate>Wed, 02 Jan 2013 03:29:56 GMT</pubDate>
- <title>01/01/13 Happy Microblogging</title>
- <description>Don't leave it
all unsaid, somewhere in the wasteland of your head.
- <pubDate>Wed, 02 Jan 2013 03:29:56 GMT</pubDate>
Lines 1, 2, and 9: these lines need to have the correct time format which for the purposes of RSS is called RFC 1123 format. Go to this site, copy the time, and paste it into the 3 places.
Line 5: Replace the date with the current one and the title of your choosing.
Line 6: Blog your life in the description portion.
Lines 7 and 8: add the html link from your RSS feed to your microblog including the "anchor" which is basically in this syntax, the date of your post.
I know that my approach requires double input; however, this is a proof of concept. A person with brains might easily create an app for windows, android, iOS, linux, etc., so that all one would have to add is the title and the description. I would definitely pay a dollar for that. Perhaps a few million would. Perhaps this interested coder could become an overnight millionaire if this takes off?
But Dr. Aaronson, how can I comment on one of your microblog posts? I want to be able to do that. Well guess what, you can! If everyone follows the anchor code above, there would be nothing to prevent your commenting on, for example the fact that I missed "Cut the Rope" in my selection of great app games. You would comment on your microblog and link to my post:
01/02/13 More great android and iOS game apps.Please note that you can call the anchor anything you want. You can choose 12/30/12 or 12.30.12. If you are from another country, the month/day/year order might be different. The millionaire coder mentioned above might take this point into account when making the microblog app.
Dr. Aaronson: you forgot to add "Cut the Rope" and "Where's my Water" to your list of must have android/iOS apps. http://michaelaaronsonmd.pagekite.me/index.html#12.30.12
Although I haven't figured out a way to find out how many people like a particular post, I'm sure that it can be done with some simple coding. Frankly, Mr. Shankly, getting stats associated with feeds is already a possibility if you sell your soul to Google and convert your feed to a feedburner feed.
My approach doesn't have games associated with it like Facebook does, but with all the great game apps already available for android, iOS, etc, I would opine that the association is unnecessary. That said, all the invites to gamble have no value, can be considered glorified ads, and at the end of the day are wasting valuable time.
In conclusion, I ask you to take a moment to reflect on how this "on the go" innovative offering using a cell phone as a server to microblog can streamline your life, increase your productivity because you can tweet during your down time, and create a phenomenal user experience for both the reader and the author. I hope you consider and then try my product. I hope you love it just as much as I do!
"All of the rumors keeping me grounded. I never said, I never said that they were completely unfounded" -- MORRISSEY
About the Author: Dr. Aaronson blogs about relevant topics to keep you and your family happy and healthy using the wisdom of MORRISSEY.