Cole Camplese has had some excellent posts recently thinking about the ability of RSS feeds to connect a campus publishing community. I have been doing a lot of experimentation in this area over the last year or so, and his posts here and here are really useful examinations of what might be possible as I delve into the questions of thinking through UMW Blogs as a CMS publishing platform, blogging service, and an eportfolio all at once.
Cole’s post about providing a selection of feeds to pick from on any given blog that might filter content by category or even provide feeds of your work from other services like del.icio.us, YouTube, Flickr, etc. was particularly intriguing to me. I have seen this done with categories on WordPress, but never using the RSS icon in the address bar. The challenge is to figure out how numerous feeds (not just to your WordPress categories or comments) be added easily? In real life it requires a hack to the template of the blog header, yet how many people are going to be
able willing to hack their theme to do this? So, as Cole suggests, making it easy is the real trick. Well, given that I am using WordPress Multi-User, easy is my middle name, baby! There is a plugin Add RSS that does just this, which gives you fields for three feeds URIs to add to your header from any service you specifify, and if you need more you can hack the plugin (which I have), but I think it could easily be modified to automatically create more feed fields if you need them. You can see it in action on a regular WP 2.3.1 site at the OG bava or on WPMu at fakebava.
Long story short is that it works and it’s easy. Now I have to wrestle with Cole’s other concerns like repositories, which I can’t say I am nearly as excited about.