Malleable Musings

November 15, 2009

Sidewiki fixes

Filed under: Sidewiki, Yahoo Pipes — Brendan @ 11:07 pm

Sidewiki announced some changes to the API a couple of days ago.

The most important one being the parameter:

This gets around the idea that someone at Google determines what should be included in a feed and what isn’t.

Another fix is that the API can now picks up an entries across a domain. I built a quick Yahoo pipe that demonstrates this although I also see that sidewikirss has already been updated.

What I’m still waiting for Google to provide is some form of search across all Sidewiki entries regardless of which domain they are on.

October 26, 2009

More on Sidewiki

Filed under: Sidewiki, Yahoo Pipes — Brendan @ 12:31 am

Having written about searching Sidewiki a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been  reading a bit more about it and I’ve also been been playing about with the API.

Google announced some changes to Sidewiki in mid-November, I’ve therefore marked up deletions to this post of things that have changed.

I’m approaching Sidewiki from the perspective of someone who is involved with a brand and wants to ensure I understand Sidewiki’s potential as another conversation channel before/in case it is adopted in a wide-scale way.

In order to help me do this  I created a couple of Yahoo Pipes that use the Sidewiki API – one takes a URL and checks the API for Sidewiki entries (in a similar way to Claude Vedovini’s  Sidewikirss) and then another which takes a list of URL’s in a CSV file.  I then thought about another pipe using an RSS feed (e.g. to easily pick up all comments across a blog) however by that stage I discovered the limitations of the API.  I saw someone selling commercial software that could be useful but they recognised the limitations – they were the people that put me on to the idea that the API only surfaces comments that have been liked.  From my reading around the subject I  think that the API is actually much more severe than this – basing what it shows on an alogorithm.  As far as I can tell this means that the only way of checking your site for comments is by visiting every page (and every variation of each URI – something that is impossible to do – see parameter-ised URI below) with a version of Firefox or IE with the Google ToolBar installed and Sidewiki operating!

My frustrations with the API combined with some of the very negative posts I had read and I started wondering whether in releasing Sidewiki Google had broken their “Do no evil” mantra. This is  something that would sadden me as I’ve always been a bit of a Google fanboy.

I’m not naive enough to think that a brand is in control of how it is perceived, nor that there is anyway that you can follow every conversation involving your brand.  So I thoughtsome more and decided, that excepting that potentially rogue content can be positioned next to your own within the browser, Sidewiki comments are no different from those found on Facebook (a truly walled garden in which conversations can easily be missed).  Then I came across this excellent Neville Hobson post and I felt that much of my thunder had been stolen.  However Neville’s post raises some interesting issues for me:

  1. The idea of Sidewiki as a commenting platform.  I don’t think this is something that brand/website owners should encourage mainly because comment monitoring is so difficult.  For example Neville invites people to leave a Sidewiki comment on  People might see this and assume that Neville has got the monitoring in place for or for and other URLs.  However such monitoring may only be visible from your website logs – and then only if you know what you are looking for, e.g I’ve commented on this:.’snotthesamepagewithoutthisparamete.
  2. Google have provided a mechanism for page owners to provide a top placed comment in the side wiki.  However you need to do this on every page on your site.  What’s more there is no such option on public sites in which your brands might be investing, e.g. think how much time and energy you might push into your Facebook Fan pages or You Tube Channels etc. (e.g. this video from UNSW has a Sidewiki entry).

I know that there are Sidewiki Policies which supposedly provides some protection against vandalism (I don’t like using that word – as I see them as comments that need to be responded to). However for me the bigger issue is that Sidewiki isn’t searchable (it looks like Google isn’t indexing sidewiki entries and may be removing entries that have already been indexed) and then there are the issues with the API highlighted above.

In it’s current state like others I’m left confused about Sidewiki. At the moment I think movement in this direction is inevitable but can only see it being gamed and as someone who is involved with a brand it scares the hell out of me. I guess that we all just need to keep watching.

December 28, 2008

What I’m reading….

Filed under: RSS Feeds, Social Bookmarking, Yahoo Pipes — Brendan @ 7:36 pm

Over the holiday period I started thinking about how I will use this blog, my iPhone and Twitter (which I think I probably want to explore in more detail). One of these thoughts led me to update the site theme and add RSS feeds of some of my Twitter updates.

I’ve tidied the feeds up through Yahoo Pipes so that I can filter out the Twitter updates that I’m interesting in displaying and so that they link back to the original thing I was talking about rather than to my Twitter update.

The first example is the RSS feed of what I’m reading which should be on the right hand side.

The rest of this post contains a couple of items that were on a separate What I am reading page mid December. Eventually I’ll probably work through and delete or replace these: added 10.12.08

Techcrunch article about Paulo Coelho, Facebook and MySpace added 9.12.08

Pages that I feel I need to comment on: and

Postscript: Thinking about this some more – why not use delicious or Digg – it’s probably more sensible.

December 23, 2008

RSS feed from a static webpage

Filed under: PHP, Yahoo Pipes — Brendan @ 10:55 pm

I mentioned in an earlier post that I’d started playing around with twitterfeed having set up a newsfeed service on Twitter (not many followers at the mo but it’s not really been promoted yet and it’s main output may well not be on Twitter – I’ll probably look at aggregated RSS feeds elsewhere).

Where I work is fairly unique and one of the problems I’m facing is that I need to bring in news from a variety of sources that aren’t in RSS format. One example is the Goldsmiths College News Feed.

The purpose of this post is to remind myself what I did to include this as I’ll probably need to repeat this process on a whole range of other pages.  (N.B. this is one of those posts written for myself so I’ll not post the full file but rather some comments – the variable I used wasn’t called $str).

1) Create a php file which will use some of the following commands:

$strURL = "URL to be brought in";
$strHTML = file_get_contents($strURL);
$str = explode("<hr>",$strHTML);
// break the the html in to usable parts

$variable = strip_tags($itThree, '<a>');
// strip out the HTML apart from whatever tags are needed

Probably explode the text further so that individual elements are part
of an array, might need to use something like the following at this stage:
$str[2] = preg_replace('/\ \[ <a href="/', '', $str[2]);
The publication date will need to be in a suitable format or needs to be changed
to a guid format, e.g.
$guid = strtotime($str[0])

Then echo it all out
echo '<?xml version="1.0" ?>
      <rss version="2.0" xmlns:atom="">
      <title>Gold news</title>
      <link>URL where php script is</link>
      <description>An RSS enabled version of the Goldsmith News Page available at</description>
      <atom:link href="URL where php script is" rel="self" type="application/rss+xml" />


2) Upload it – and check it validates –

3) Add to feedburner – and sit back and watch the news roll out.

Postscript: after writing this and getting it working I remembered Yahoo Pipes for the conversion. Use this to remind self of regex options.