Update: the ongoing saga of the “hard left” feed aggrigator

Okay, for those of you who missed the drama at Progressivebloggers.ca or my original post on this topic, here’s the deal:

1) We’ve decided (and this shouldn’t be taken as a small accomplishment – it may sound like a small accomplishment merely to decide something, but for those in doubt, just check the progressivebloggers thread linked to in the original post) that it may be a good thing to have a far-left feed aggrigator for a wide range of people on the far left who don’t quite fit in with existing feed aggrigators like vast left wing conspiracy, progressivebloggers.ca or the blogging dippers.

2)  I’ve imagined this feed aggrigator as being in a simple “river-of-news” format akin to vast left wing conspiracy simply due to the fact that: a) it’s simple and b) because I’m already pretty inept at this stuff that I imagine right now I’ve gotta crawl before I can walk and something more complex like the voting system at progressivebloggers.ca is way beyond me right now.

3)  Okay, here’s the important part:  I’m having some difficulty finding something that’s suitable.  Nothing seems to work.  Here’s a list of the failed attempts thus far:

#1. creating an account with feedbucket.com in order to share it with everyone

Problems: 

a) Can’t publish one master feed list (unless I’m doing something wrong). 

b) If we go low-tech and give everybody the username and password, then anybody can just add whatever feeds they want and there’s a risk that as the community grows, it gets out of control.

c) can’t delete feeds once added

#2.  Creating an account with feedbite.com in order to share it with everyone

Problems:

a) feeds are not ordered chronologically.  So, for instance, when I up all of the feeds for the blogs I have on my blogroll, Scott Neigh’s blog somehow got to go first and everything he’s written in the past couple of months went first, followed by everything Louis Proyect’s written in the past couple of months et cetera all the way down to some very recent stuff that Anna Marie and myself wrote which gets burried at the very bottom.

b) other than that though, this solution would be great if we could fix that problem.

Now, there are still some problems in and above these.  For instance, I don’t think either solution solves Red Jenny’s problem of insufficient room for discussion.

We can still do April Reign’s solution which would be setting up a wordpress blog and then just having us carry the feed on each of our respective blogs.  The only problems with this that I see is that, firstly, I don’t know if blogspot blogs can host other feeds on their sidebar like wordpress blogs can.  Secondly, we would all have to make a point of logging on to this joint wordpress blog and post whatever we’ve written on our regular blogs.

Any thoughts and/or ideas?  Any comments on the item’s I’ve tried or on April Reign’s suggestion?

16 Responses to “Update: the ongoing saga of the “hard left” feed aggrigator”


  1. 1 MrvnMouse 26 February, 2007 at 12:04 am

    You know, I could just set up one for you guys somewhere on vlwc. It would use the same code as VLWC uses, you would have full control over who’s allowed to be on it, and everyone would be
    happy.

    I am pretty much letting anyone onto VLWC, but if you want to restrict to far left sites that’s your progative. I can help out with what I have coded thus far. :)

  2. 2 surplusvalue 26 February, 2007 at 12:38 am

    I just skimmed the post (sorry, in a rush as always) and thought that maybe something akin to Yahoo Pipes is what you are looking for? An overview of Pipes is here.

    I’ll read the linked post later and comment again with other suggestions if I’ve missed the point :).

    Luke.

  3. 3 surplusvalue 26 February, 2007 at 1:00 am

    Forgot to add: or, possibly, this.

  4. 4 Morgan 26 February, 2007 at 4:11 am

    What’s wrong with the Blogging Change aggregator you are already on, seems pretty hard left?

    BTW: Blogger can host feeds no problem.

  5. 5 paulitics 26 February, 2007 at 10:10 am

    Morgan – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the Blogging Change aggrigator. I love that aggrigator and have profound respect for it. Blogging Change serves its function – and it’s a good one – but it’s not the function that I’m looking to serve.

    Surplus value – your third hyperlink didn’t work. Could you try again?

    MrvnMouse – Wow, that would be so great if you would be willing to do that for us!!! I have your e-mail (since you posted the comment) is it alright if I contact you via that medium?

  6. 6 Red Jenny 26 February, 2007 at 10:51 am

    Hey Paul, thanks for the work you are putting into this.

    BTW, I have no problem holding discussions on the comments of the particular posts. I think an aggregator that also shows the number of comments on a post would be cool, since we could see at a glance which posts have discussions going on already. I don’t know if that is possible but it’s on my wish list. Sometimes when I’m short of time, I skim and I’ll admit a post with a lot of comments attracts me right away because I think “ooh, hot topic”.

  7. 7 Larry Gambone 26 February, 2007 at 11:02 am

    I think MrvnMouse”s idea is a good one and thank him for the offer

  8. 8 MrvnMouse 26 February, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    Paulitics. Sure. just e-mail me and we’ll discuss the details. :)

  9. 9 Doug 26 February, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    Sorry in advance if I’ve missed the point – I’m jumping in a little late here, and too lazy to read the discussion in its entirety. What is it exactly that you want to do? Create a “hard left” feed? It sounds unwieldy. It might be a better idea to simply start a new blog, make yourself (or a group of people) the editor(s), and post the “best” stuff, rather than every single post by every single contributor, which a feed would do. The Left-wing Conspiracy is 95% crap, and not simply because of the generally shitty politics on hand.

    It would be good to acknowledge that “all posts are not equal” and proceed from there, establishing an edited feed/blog, more akin to an online magazine, except that the contributors are all bloggers. Having an editor would also allow for the solicitation of debates, reviews, etc that could be easily filed on the main page for readers to, er, read.

    Yes, this would require more work, but would be a lot more worthwhile that a stream of “hard left” diarrhea. Personally, I’d prefer someone’s introduction to my blog to be a reading of one of my considered political pieces, rather than bitching about this or that. An editor would screen out that crap, and keep the good stuff. And that’s what I would rather read.

    After writing such a long, opinionated entry, now I *really* hope I didn’t miss the point!

  10. 10 Andrew 26 February, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    You’re welcome to use the little app I whipped up to do light-weight blog aggregation:

    http://www.boundbygravity.com/archives/2006/01/squish_an_rsstorss_aggregator.php

    It’s used by OntarioBlogs & The Blogging Alliance of Non-Partisan Canadians at the very least.

  11. 11 Polly Jones 26 February, 2007 at 8:43 pm

    I left a comment on your last entry. I think a group blog would be a good idea…I also think it is necessary to identify a much clearer position than ‘hard left’.

  12. 12 paulitics 26 February, 2007 at 10:08 pm

    Polly Jones – (In response to both comments)

    I think you make a fair point that the term “hard left” hasn’t really been definted by anybody in this debate yet. I agree that we should work hard to insure that all of the groups you mentioned (anti-capitalist, socialist, ecofeminist, anarchist) and more are encouraged to join.

    Once we get this up and running, I’d like to come up with some kind of a draft mission statement for us all to have a say in and decide on. Basically I’m seeing this as a place for anybody who opposes capitalism as well as other systems of domination (ex. patriarchy/racisim) – regardless of their favoured solution to said problems. Ie. I’m a Marxist or neo-Marxist and as such, I have a certain conception of how to go forward, but I think it would be profoundly against the spirit of progress and co-operation to block an anarchist or anarco-syndicalist, radical feminist or eco-socialist etc. from joining.

    Any thoughts?

    Andrew – I downloaded the file you linked to but the readme file didn’t tell me anything. I should stress that, compared to you, I know virtually nothing about this stuff. I’d really be interested in learning if I could use your program on, for instance, a regular blog like mine or whether I’d need to find someplace to host a blog and pay for a domain name etc….

    Doug – I hear ya loud and clear. Unfortunately, I don’t have anywhere near the time to sort out what posts are worthy and what posts aren’t worthy. Moreover, I would feel bad if I hurt somebody’s feelings if they felt that they had written a particularly good piece which they had wanted included and I (or whoever else was moderating) disagreed. So I think we’d have a problem with deciding what is and is not crap.

    That said, I think you raise a VERY important point. We definitely don’t want our experiment being dragged down with “filler” and “fluff”. The only solution I can think of which is both time efficient and fair is to choose the blogs which are represented in such a manner that we only pick the highest quality blogs to be included. As such, we can immediately exclude something which is 90% gossip and 10% socialist can be rejected.

    Now this would naturally entail some sort of a programme for deciding what is and is not a good blog (perhaps three moderators and a majority vote on whether to admit a particular blog would be a good idea) but I think this is a problem worth taking on.

    Any thoughts?

  13. 13 Red Jenny 27 February, 2007 at 11:39 am

    I agree with Doug. I don’t want fluff posts crowding the landscape, but I think this poses some potential problems. I think editing would take a lot of time, but if you’re willing to do it, it would probably be great.

    I don’t think this issue would be solved by approving only “good blogs” because within all good blogs are bound to be lots of not-so-interesting posts.

    I like the concept at progblogs, care2 news, digg, and others in which readers vote, (aka digg or note) posts of interest. That gives the control to the readers – they determine what is interesting and what is not. It is also interactive, which I feel readers really appreciate. The code for that might be complex though. I’m not really sure.

    Another possibility is to let the bloggers submit individual posts. Allow them to determine which of their posts they feel offer value.

  14. 14 Red Jenny 27 February, 2007 at 11:47 am

    One more thing, a really low tech solution would be to open an RSS reader somewhere like Bloglines, add blogs we like, and then “share” the feeds.

    I read a lot of stuff with Google reader, but their sharing capabilities aren’t that great (e.g. the public page for blogs I read)

    There are better feed readers out there though, with more features built in which might work for us. I’ll do a little research and see if I can come up with something.

  15. 15 Polly Jones 27 February, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    Well, I think anyone who identifies as ‘left’ and maybe even ‘right’ will say tht they oppose oppression and systems of domination. I think there needs to be some narrowing so that it is at least people who see that the system itself needs to be changed.


  1. 1 Authoritarianism is NEVER progressive: Scott Tribe should resign « Paulitics: Paul’s Socialist Investigations Trackback on 15 May, 2007 at 6:22 pm

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