iBuzz at Green My Apple

Ian Wilker of roots.lab did a fantabulous review of the Green My Apple site. I was especially chuffed by this:

The iBuzz section of the site features Technorati keyword search for “greenmyapple” tag, and del.icio.us search for same – why don’t more sites do this?

This was such a last minute addition to the site, but it’s one of the touches I added to Tom’s Magnum Opus that I’m most proud of, and one of the things that keeps me (and, judging from the stats, more than a few others!) going back.

As Ian notes, we really didn’t integrate any of the flash Web 2.0 stuff that’s out there, and I was worried that we’d created a site dedicated to creating a buzz, but didn’t have a way to reflect that buzz except through the number of emails sent to Steve Jobs and, with great effort, by displaying the User Generated Content. For a flat html site like this, a tag RSS was just the ticket.

Here’s how you build one.techno.jpg

1. Grab an RSS feed you want to display. Keep in mind that any technorati search — on keyword, tag, whatever, can be rendered as an RSS feed. It’s not obvious, but the “subscribe” link to the right of the Technorati search results is search-result specific. It’ll feed any subsequent hits to your query.

2. Take that feed over to Feed2JS.org or one of the many mirrors of this service. (Pick one physically close to your server to reduce load time). Feed2JS creates a snippet of Javascript which can display the content of an RSS feed on any webpage with a huge amount of flexibility. Looks good straight out of the box, but you can use CSS to style it any way you like. Here’s a few examples of feeds we run on the Greenpeace.org site:


Grab the Javascript which Feed2JS generates for you, and drop it into your page. Hey presto! Live buzz!

Now we’ve tried in the past to get users to tag blogs and entries around particular campaigns, most recently with the “McAmazon” tag around our campaign against McDonalds for their role in cutting down rainforests to plant soy to feed chickens that become McNuggets. The campaign was one sweet victory, with McDonald’s actually taking a proactive role in delivering an industry-wide moratorium on new soy plantations that was actually beyond what we’d asked for. But the “encourage users to tag” efforts really weren’t all that effective. Tagging is either a fringe skill among über-geeks, or it’s simply not in the toolkit of most of our audience at www.greenpeace.org. We had tremendous participation in the campaign, and lots of mentions in the blogosphere, but at last count, Technorati reported only 53 results for sites actually tagged “McAmazon” in all languages with any authority, despite our putting an invitation to tag on every piece of web communication we put out there. Just not good enough.

The real difference in what we cooked up for Green My Apple was the del.icio.us RSS feed for our tag. Now THAT allowed me and Tom and the entire community involved in the campaign to tag where no one had tagged before, and provide a multiplier effect on existing content. If somebody wrote a great blog but failed to tag it, we’d just tag the del.icio.us bookmark: badda bing, badda boom, done. And here’s irony: even the roots.lab article, which clearly gets tagging and is lavish in its praise for this aspect of the campaign, neglected to tag their review greenmyapple! So it happens to the best! (It’s ok, Ian, Tom and I both tagged you via del.icio.us).

For del.icio.us, it’s the same deal as above, just grab the RSS for a specific tag search. To keep things interesting, they put THEIR search-specific feed down at the bottom of the page:

By bookmarking stuff we liked with del.ico.us and adding the tag greenmyapple, we were able to create a handy record of campaign references, a lively immediate-update set of links to stuff all over the webscape, and we could even throw editorial comments up in the links thatFlickr badge
appeared on the iBuzz page.

For Flickr, you need to go to their “Tools Page” (which I can never find without poking around for ages) and find the “Flickr Badge” tool. There’s some configuration possibilities when you construct your badge, which can display photos from a set or group. But you can also style div tags to get a more customized look.

And that’s pretty much it. Given the prevalence of RSS feeds out there today, there’s gotta be a thousand other applications for this kind of stuff. Monitoring comments by a particular PR Agent assigned to an industry? Easy — Google News also delivers RSS feeds of news searchs. Monitoring Comments at multiple blogs? Can do. Feed2JS can be slow if you’ve got more than one feed on a page (I’ve got a monster page of feeds I watch here, but I load it up in a background tab with my morning cup of coffee and let it do its stuff.)

Post a link up here if this has been helpful and if you use any of these techniques. I love getting mail, but what gives me a real warm fuzzy feeling is seeing other digital activists pick up stuff like this and run.


P.S. UPDATE: Green My Apple is a finalist in the SXSW awards! Give us your vote!

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