07 May Boca’s News Aggregator 2.0
This site featured manually aggregated links to other sites, mostly news articles, on the hompage. So this site was acting as an aggregator. It wasn’t easy to maintain. So I made it easier with new technology.
I created a “plugin” for this site’s content management system, WordPress. I call the plugin “News RSS Aggregator”. It lets me do more aggregation of links, more discovery, faster selection, more controlled publishing, with more consistent, precise and effective output. It’s a new tool for publishing that lets people like me do what we want to do: share links on their sites the best way, the right way without depending on widgets from social media sites and without hurting search engine traffic.
- The Problem: In order to maintain the freshness of these links and keep the stories relevant to the moment had to find the stories on other sites then manually copy and paste links and titles. I didn’t follow “best practices” when I was doing this, adding the nuances that made the experience more usable or free from the SEO penalties incurred by sharing a massive number of links. I just did it as fast as I could, to get the stories up I thought were good.
- The Opportunity: There are so many good stories from good writers spread across a wide number of sites here in my hometown, Boca Raton. The problem is that social media does a poor job of exposing audiences to what’s relevant across the gamut of publishing. The competition between voices resulted in a dearth of cross-publishing, publishers sharing each other’s work by virtue of merit. Too much good stuff wasn’t ever getting the clicks it deserved and people around town weren’t learning the things that would be genuine benefits to them to know.
- The Concept: When I went to high school, in Boca High, Dr. Robbe turned all of his students into “news junkies” with his daily “Top of the News” exercise. Every day he’d select a few stories, typically 4, and copy them to the blackboard. Every day. We’d come into class and there they would be. We’d have to copy them into our notebooks. Often we’d discuss those stories, the facts we knew about them and tie them back to other recent events. It took him a lot of effort outside the class time to select those stories and be ready to interpret them for his class.
Ever since the Web became public back in the mid 90’s I’ve wanted to move his “Top of the News” online. Experiments doing it, in the Web 1.0 manual way, yielded the realization of the time required and the “height of the bar” higher than what 99.99% of educators with a desire to do “Top of the News” online could do. Then social media came along around the turn of the millennium, creating Web 2.0 expectations for me, for educators. WordPress made it 50% easier than doing it the old fashioned way: with HTML code. This plugin, “News RSS Aggregator”, brings the other 50% of functionality online, resulting in the most ideal way to do “Top of the News” type link sharing daily. Now any educator has the tools within reach to do it well.
- The Difference: Other plugins dabble in the art of aggregation, but this one is built around the concept of curation, not regurgitation. This one does it the way that adds value, not noise.
If you value its output and approach, or want to experiment with it on your own let me know. Thanks for being a part of the 4boca audience.