Tag Archives: constrained-search

ReadTwit and GReader – two great tastes that taste great together

04-30 peanut butter cup by FrontStudio


A while back I found readtwit (can’t recall from who, but thanks!), a service that creates an RSS feed of all the links that are posted by people in your twitter follow feed, expanding each link into the page it was actually linking to.

Now if you are like me, and follow people in your field who are passionate about what they do and share a lot of what they do, what they learn and what they find in twitter, this is a godsend. What it results in looks a lot like the below screenshot once you subscribe to it in Google Reader (or really whatever RSS Reader you like, but I am going to focus on GReader for a reason):

Readtwit in GReader

Well, so what you say- sure you have the links from twitter in GReader, but all you’ve done is shifted reading environments. Aha, just so! But shifted into one that offers better affordances for this specific use of twitter (learning and collective intelligence through link sharing.)

First off, if this is the primary way in which you approach twitter (as a social network primarily for finding new resources, it allows you to pay attention to just that. I’d suggest that this would be to not benefit from the full interaction of twitter, but for some folks that’s just fine. Indeed, in conjunction with the new ‘Lists’ functionality in twitter, this becomes a powerful way for a newcomer to subscribe to a curated list of ‘experts’ and see what they are sharing with each other (it helps too that readtwit sorts out duplicates, again reducing the noise).

But say you like spending time in twitter. What benefit then? Well, one aspect of shifting these particular tweets into a reader is that you can consume then at your own pace, and not loose them as twitter flows endlessly by. At least that is what I first thought when I subscribed. But sure enough, just as tweets flow by too quickly to “keep up” with everything, shifting to GReader doesn’t help that much. Instead I just get a feed full of too many links to follow up on.

It wasn’t until during the midst of presentation to Alec Couros’ grad school class (Elluminate recording here) on “Mashing and Remixing Open Education” that I actually realized what the REAL benefit of subscribing to the readtwit feed in GReader was. It wasn’t so that I could follow each of the links in the feed – I still will click through in twitter when I see something that is interesting, and let it flow past when I’m not there. No, the REAL benefit is that the pages in this feed GET ADDED TO MY PERSONAL FEED-FOCUSED SEARCH ENGINE.


I’m not sure how many people actually realize that GReader allows you to search across all the feeds your subscribe to (or even a specific feed). Why is this important? Because – if it’s in my feed reader it has already reached a certain level of ‘trust’ as a source for me. I’m not saying I “believe” everything in my feed reader, but the vast majority come from people who are curating their own identities/output, whose context overlaps mine to some extent (otherwise I wouldn’t be subscribing to them). Being able to see who else in my network wrote or linked to something I find is of great use for me, increases my ability to assess information 10 fold.

Anyways, try it out for yourself. It doesn’t cost anything, the worse that happens is you have a GReader feed that fills up with unread items. The best that happens is that you added another source to your growing socially filter search engine. – SWL

Delicious Subject Guides: Maintaining Subject Guides Using a Social Bookmarking Site


Too bad the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research articles don’t allow comments, or I would have added “Great idea, and if you combine it with the Google Custom Search engine API like we did on the Free Learning site, you can also turn these ‘subject guides’ into constrained search engines.” But alas, journals are just so one way… – SWL

Dynamic Wiki-driven OER Search Engine


So Stephen pointed to a Google Coop engine that Tony Hirst built out of the OER pointers on ZaidLearn’s OER collection page.

That’s cool, I’m a google coop/constrained search nut, and knowing Tony, he likely finagled some sweet way of automatically getting the links into the Coop engine.

But…why not drive the Coop engine right out of a wiki page? That way, as people find new OER sites, they can easily expand the engine. Sure, Coop itself will let you do this, but you gotta ask permission. This is actually easily accomplished on ANY web page using the “Generate Google Coop Engine on the Fly” javascript code. Ponder that for a second – ANY web page can also become a constrained search engine, simply by inserting a piece of Javascript. Google, I love you. If I were going to have any more kids, I’d name the next one Google. (luckily, I’m not ;-)SWL

My search is over – Yahoo Pipe to constrain search to linked to pages


Wouldn’t you know it, a few seconds after I finish commenting on Tony Hirst’s blog that my personal quest has been a way to dynamically constrain a search to only those pages linked on any webpage, I actually read the entire post and learn that he had already done this! A simultaneous ‘Doh!’ and ‘Hooray!’

From a usability perspective what I’ve always wanted to see was this as a bookmarklet that passes the link the URL from whatever link containing page you’re on, so I’ll look into that, but Tony has demonstrated how this is seemingly quite straightforward with Yahoo Pipes.

Why is this important to me? Think of all of the collections of links out there, people who have painstakingly vetted links on a particular subject, collected only those they felt were important. With one click you can search just those linked sites. It can definitely be argued that this always runs the risk of missing stuff outside of those constrianed sites, but there’s times when limiting the context is useful and important. – SWL