Approximating the Syndication Bus with WordPress.com

Image of the syndication bus

Image credit: The ubiquitous Syndication Bus image first linked to (at least for me) by Scott Leslie (No idea who created)

Michael Willits (do you have a blog I can link to yet, and why aren’t you blogging this?) sent me an email last week about some of the very cool work Danielle Stern is doing with her Gender Communication courses at Christopher Newport University (hereafter CNU). This spring Michael (being a DTLT kinda guy) encouraged her to consider blogging in these course as a way for students to process and share conversations about the role of gender in communication relationships—a course and topic designed for blogging and the internet if there ever was one! Seems like she ran with the idea and has done an amazing job getting her students not only comfortable with the idea of blogging and letting their thoughts extend beyond the confines of the classroom walls, but also in encouraging them to engage in more thoughtful discussions during class sessions based on postings on the their’ respective blogs.

What’s more, given the limitations of the current setup of WordPress at CNU she wasn’t really able to get her students up and running quickly on the campus blog solution. So what did she do? She imagined her own
tag/aggregation syndication bus viz-a-viz WordPress.com. All her student got their own blog, and then simply used a unique, agreed upon tag for all the posts that were related to this course. A course portal that was basically provided by WordPress.com with one simple RSS feed (kinda like what we have been doing with FeedWordPress and the Syndication Bus). You can see the feeds for each of these course below, and note that they are simply display all the posts for these unique tags:

So, I hadn’t realized before—but I should have—that anyone can approximate this distributed syndication model through WordPress.com for nothing. The only drawbacks is that everyone in the class needs a WordPress.com blog—don’t imagine you can pull in self-hosted feeds, Blogger, Drupal, Typepad, etc., which is the essence of the Syndication bus in my mind.

Which brings a larger question to my mind, if Matt Mullenweg is talking to Andrew Keen about thinking of blogging—and by extension WordPress—as an aggregation point for all our distributed online media, when is it going to make something like simple, powerful, and customized syndication of a whole host of feeds from the widest possible variety of services part of the core code/service. Think about how this would change how this professor used WordPress.com, she could simply create a blog and add her students’ feeds, or even better if it was setup properly, allow them to do it themelves using an agreed upon password or something that allows them to add it to a field. Then,  the aggregation bus comes to WordPress.com, and while it might cost a little extra to keep out all the crazy spammers and the like, it would actually realize the push of blogs more generally as aggregation points which, I agree, is exactly the logic all of this is heading towards.

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8 Responses to Approximating the Syndication Bus with WordPress.com

  1. Scott Leslie says:

    oh, I created that alright, using the fantastic http://ruletheweb.co.uk/b3ta/bus/

    You know the implication that I didn’t create it, even if it was using a ‘generator’ site, kinda hurts. I mean I know I rip a lot of stuff off, but not everything! I’m going to crawl back under my Ikea™ duvet with a box of Kleenex® and go back to snipping pictures out of Sports Illustrated©®™, sniff, sniff.

  2. Steven Egan says:

    Sounds good to me. I’d love to see this dream become reality. The school blogging platform could become a set of aggregaters, with normal blogs being a part too.

    I would think taking the concept of a feedreader it would be possible to create a universal feed aggregater.

  3. Reverend says:

    @Scott,

    I’m sorry, I really am, can I buy you a Starbuck’s Mochaccino™ or take you out to Applebee’s™ , TGIGs™ , or even a bake you some Ellio’s Pizza™ ? I wanna make this right!

    @Steven,
    Yeah, it is actually all pretty easy, and I think we will see this as standard pretty soon in fact. Also, educbacon will be setup shortly with all these features, sorry for the delay, but I am making it it’s own WPMu site with dynamic subdomains which has taken me a bit longer. So spologies.

  4. Steven Egan says:

    Sounds great. My only concern was it being put off, delays are standard features of all my projects. 😛 Once set up, we can let Scott have some free servings of edubacon.

  5. Steven Egan says:

    An idea just popped into mind about the feeds, satellite feeds. Basically the feedreader and aggregater combination done to lighten the bandwidth load by splitting the content into several display feeds. Similar could be done with things like streaming video as an in-between of peer-2-peer and the single source concept. Sounds like a possible approach for lower the costs of bandwidth for the small scale operations and a way to get content for minimal costs.

  6. Cool, thanks for sharing on The Bava! Danielle and I will continue working through this summer on her course, and I can’t wait to see how her students push the boundaries of thinking and learning in their blogs. I expect updates will be on Not About Tech soon enough. She’s doing some amazing work, even within the limitations of using WordPress.com.

    Not About Tech will be coming back soon to an interweb near you. Stay tuned! I’ve finally settled in here and have a million ideas waiting to come out (rather spill out, they’re somewhat disorganized).

  7. Danielle Stern says:

    Wow, I’m flattered the fun I’ve been having with my class and this project might lead to more classroom blog use. Thanks for including it on your space. I’ve been tweaking the way I’ve used WordPress as I transition to an entirely online course this summer. In the spring, the students and I actually met most days and could dissect some of the blog discussions and issues face to face. Beginning next week, though, we shift to Worpress and Blackboard (to upload individual assignments). As such, in the Pages section of our WordPress course blog, I’ve added what I hope are simple instructions for my students to get started. Here is the link: http://comm330summer09.wordpress.com/

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