Thursday, 21 May 2009

RSS, Listservs and even usenet news ...

Mailing list servers are something I've spent a fair amount of time with in a past life, even managed a number of JiscMail mailing lists when I was in the UK.

Mailing lists, like usenet news, are a bit of an eighties technology and have to an extent been replaced by multi authored blogs and wikis, but they're still valuable, and there are a number of lists out there I still follow.

However, if you use gmail as a mail service there's two problems with mailing lists.

  • While it's trivially simple to apply a label, because gmail doesn't do folders (shades of sharepoint) you can't filter off emails you might want to read later to a separate folder.
  • Gmail threads discussions for you based on subject. Generally this is a good thing, but if you have a thread with 15 or so entries it can be tedious to work through.
Now, I only lurk on some of the mailing lists I follow. Most of the posts are not of great interest, but every so often there's a gem. I reply very rarely to posts. So I had the idea of forwarding the messages from the mailing lists to a private rss feed (nothing clever, no threading or anything) much as I use twitter to generate the 'interesting links' feed. The idea being that I could then skim the first couple of lines of each message, much as I do with blog posts in my rss aggregator, and then decide if I want to read further. (Just call me superficial)And being a parasite I thought, someone must have done this and have a publicly accessible service.

Nope. Well not one that works. Various sites such as torss and xfruits claim to do this but it doesn't seem to work for me. And of course being a highly skilled professional it can't be me, although it could possibly be the mail account I was using as the feed source was blocking access.

Anyway it didn't work for me.

The alternative is to simulate this by forwarding the message into some blogging service that allows posting by email, rather than directly generating the rss feed from the email input, which is what I'm trying at the moment using blogger and what used to be mail2blogger to see how well it works

And everything I've said for listservs goes for usenet news - there are still a few groups out there that I follow.

We'll see ...

1 comment:

dgm said...

It's working, looks promising. The only gotcha I found that the google 'let search engines find your blog' seemed to have to be set to yes before google reader would see if there were new updates to the blog.