Creating Personalized Feeds with Delicious

I have found this a useful way to use http://del.icio.us, the excellent social bookmarking site that is based on tagging.

Let’s review quickly. I post all my bookmarks to delicious. They are all viewable by the public. Mine are here: http://del.icio.us/natekoechley. One great thing about delicious is that every page on the site – every node – has an RSS feed. If all my bookmarks are viewable on the web at /username, then the feed of that content is /rss/username.

Looks like this:
http://del.icio.us/natekoechley
http://del.icio.us/rss/natekoechley

The second thing that’s great about delicious is that I can quickly and easily annotate my bookmarks with tags. For example, I have bookmarked Industrial Drawings from the Smithsonian. In addition to storing the URL, I have tagged it with the following words: industrial, drawings, smithsonian, museum, design, art, history.

Each tag becomes a node.  When you are viewing my total collection of bookmarks, my username "natekoechley" is the node. It is likewise possible to view all my bookmarks for a particular tag, such as
http://del.icio.us/natekoechley/art
http://del.icio.us/rss/natekoechley/art

If you want to widen your view, you can view all "art" bookmarks for everybody on the network:
http://del.icio.us/tag/art
http://del.icio.us/rss/tag/art

There is no limit to the number of tags you can have, either in general or with a single URL.

As you can see, each node – tag – get’s it’s own RSS feed. This is the functionality that creates my personalized feeds.

Reduce Email with Personalized Feeds

If you’re like me, there are a couple people in your life that you want to send links too. For me that’s my girlfriend Aimee and my family. Email isn’t perfect for this — even with family, too many urls can quickly feel like spam. A blog isn’t perfect either; links for family and close friends are often boring, in jokes, or off-topic to a wider blog audience. My solution is to use tags and RSS in http://del.icio.us, in conjunction with an RSS aggregator — My Yahoo! works perfect for this.

Step one is to flag content that they’ll like. Tagging makes this super easy, I just create person-specific tags with the format, "attn:aimee". (Use any convention you want; the colon isn’t important either, a hyphen, prior or other mark will work fine.)

With sites tagged, the special tags will begin generating RSS feeds. Any aggregator will work of course, but for family I had success recommending My Yahoo!. Now, when every my family checks their My Yahoo! page, they’ll see any new links that I flagged for their attention…. To me, this is ">100% Awesome.

While I don’t think that RSS will replace email any time soon, this is a great way to remove some unnecessary noise from the inbox while still maintaining intimate and personal relationships.

Disclaimer: I saw the "attn:xxxx" syntax on another site, it is not my original idea. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to re-locate the source. Please send me and help me locate any prior work on this approach, so that I may give proper credit. Thanks!

Update: Here is an earlier mention of this technique, though this still isn’t the place I saw the idea first. Thanks for pointing this out in the comments Brian. [2005.01.19 12:01:00]