I’m trying to subscribe to your brain

Leigh’s beaten me to it very slightly by making this post which explains how he wants to subscribe to an entire person’s output, and how to convert seeAlso’s to an OPML file.

I’ve gone about it a different way.

I now use FeedOnFeeds as my aggregator (having moved away from JabRSS about six weeks ago). I’ve hacked it to do FOAF autodetection of the website every time you add a feed, and to periodically check for updates. Once it finds a FOAF file, it extracts all of the foaf:OnlineAccount details, and then performs RSS autodiscovery on those pages (and in a couple of cases does some hard-wired lookups for site which I know have RSS, but not autodiscoverable from user profile pages, like Flickr and Upcoming.org).

This actually works (with the caveat that I’m not using a real RDF parser at the moment, but it’s only a small, replaceable part of the puzzle, so I’m not overly worried).

What’s really needed is a quick and simple form for people to either create a new FOAF file with their online account details in it, or which will accept a FOAF URL as well, and merge the details in. This sounds easy, but I don’t have time because I’m about to move house.

I also intend to have some kind of admin interface to this which allows me to assign OnlineAccounts to feeds I’m already subscribed to, like adding Russ Beattie’s Flickr account details to his weblog details. This data would all be kept privately on my server of course – if someone wants to expose all this in a FOAF file, they can do so themselves.

I realise that in effect, this means making a (limited) FOAF-management tool, so I’m a bit wary of how to start. I’m not currently using a triplestore as my backend, but I suspect that as soon as I want to start actually doing this, that’s what I’ll want to switch to.

I suspect that in most cases, I won’t actually want to merge a person’s feeds together (because most of the time it’s pointless – who wants constantly updating Audioscrobbler details cluttering up their valuable aggregator space?), rather the facility to switch between viewing a list of directly subscribed feeds, and a tree of authors which expands to show which feeds they produce. Probably. This is all just guesswork because I’m not there yet, but that’s where I want to be by the end of July; I’ll just have to see if I can fit it all in.

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