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 uber-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!

1 thought on “iBuzz at Green My Apple”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.