Twitter as RSS Reader and Snagging URLs from Twitter

Tonight’s insanity was motivated by Jeff Utecht’s post on Twitter as My RSS Reader especially when he says:

Lately I’ve been thinking about Twitter as an RSS reader. My Netvibes page has about 30 RSS feeds in it, but my Twitter account has over 700 people or feeds that I can learn from. What I have found recently is that I’m reading and following more links from Twitter than I am from my RSS reader.

Yes, I love Twitter (it’s well known) but I’ve been getting a touch frustrated by the number of Twitter friends that are doing exactly what Jeff highlights here. In many cases their RSS feeds aren’t being read; they’re totally relying on people to post the links in Twitter which if they’re not careful could ultimately limit their learning by getting sucked into group thinking.

Snagging URLs from Twitter

However I decided to keep an open mind and inspired by Jeff’s post work out how to effectively collect the links posted in Twitter. Off course I’d just read a post recently, in my Google Reader, which talked how snag the URLs in TwitterFrank suggested TwitBox. And if I was going to road test a twitter application – I might as well also compare my Snitter with Twhirl that Jeff likes to use (for those new to Twitter these applications make it easier to use twitter than using Twitter’s web interface).

The insanity part — it wasn’t probably the best idea to run all three twitter applications at the same time.  Unfortunately whilst I could cope with running the three applications — it appears they couldn’t (think it was an issue with TwitBin and the other two).


Have to admit – Twhirl is really, really pretty and the colours are a nice change from Snitter (this is important to some of us) — and more importantly can be used for connecting multiple user accounts.

Twitbin definitely snags the URLs from your twitter followers; but to capture them all you would need to keep it running all the time (and Frank’s right– it’s ugly looking) plus it only snags the URLs, not the entire twit which provide you with the reason to want to check a link.

Tracking URLs Posted by Your Followers

I think there is merit in grabbing links from Twitter but we need an application that makes it time effective — like a TweetScan or Terraminds application that searches for URLs within your followers and delivers the entire twits.

Meanwhile I’ve been grabbing some excellent posts to read by tracking terms using both TweetScan & Terraminds and subscribing to the RSS feeds using Google Reader.

Personally I believe I take the whole 10 signs of Twitter Addiction to an entirely different level.  Perhaps the Twitter Addiction signs should also include:

  • You’ve got more than one twitter account, doesn’t everyone?
  • You run more than one desktop twitter application
  • You track multiple terms in twitter using TweetScan and Terraminds

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The Day Twitter Followers Made Me “Wash My Mouth Out With Soap”

What can I say?

Well apparently I said a lot more than people have come to expect from my mouth – as you can see from what’s been said in my twitter account!


While some of my followers were a tad offended by my tweets — some actually enjoyed these more than my normal ones plus some choose to follow me!

I’m comforted to know that I wasn’t alone in this – it was happening around the World – even Jeff Utecht and Leonard Low joined me.  Though it looks like my mouth was considerably naughtier than theirs.

Leonard even apologized.


Thankfully my mate Darren Draper came to the rescue, providing a link to the twitter blog post on what had happened.

Twitter was testing a new application server tonight that didn’t work right so they rolled it back. While many people saw the error page other people experienced a more dramatic error which had them accidentally updating other people’s Twitter. Apparently some reported every time they refreshed the page they had another twitter account.

This twitter appears to have enjoyed himself – saying “I posted as 150 different random people on Twitter. It was pretty amazing”.

Meanwhile I was totally oblivious to my twitter antics – which I discovered 2 hours later when I returned to my computer.  The hacking of our accounts was very short lived – stopped immediately Twitter realised the problem – but it did give me a massive panic attack at the thought of my online accounts being hacked.

Glad I use TweetScan tracking to alert me when people twitter my name.

Oh NO! Is Your Scanner Down And You Didn’t Realise?

I use TweetScan all the time to effectively manage conversations in Twitter that I want to track e.g. replies to my twitter name dswaters and any other variations people have used e.g. suewaters and tags like Edublogs.

With the number of people I follow I need TweetScan as my eyes and ears. By subscribing to the RSS feed for the tracking term using my feed reader I’m notified through Google Reader whenever anyone, anywhere, tweeters that term.

Unfortunately – DUH – I have had a bit of a delay in realising that TweetScan stopped scanning 36 hours ago and I wasn’t receiving the updates.

Not to fear! I just changed over to another twitter tracking tool – Terraminds – added these the RSS feeds for my terms to my Twitter folder in Google Reader and programming has now recommenced.

Here is how I subscribed to TweetScan using my Google Reader. You use the same procedure for Terraminds.


Here are some of my other tips for Getting More Out of Twitter.


Proof – it is possible for me to quickly write a post, one handed, while drying my hair, with 2 kids fighting in the background, while drinking a glass of water!

If you aren’t tracking tag terms in twitter I strongly recommend you try it out.

Tips for Diversifying Your Blog Subscriptions

The best blog posts, for me, are those that make me STOP, reflect, ponder and challenge my own viewpoints!

Take Claire Thompson “How to turn “Me Vision Into We Vision” post where she discusses the need to ensure we don’t limit our learning by getting sucked into group thinking — by restricting our blog reading and interactions to people who think the same way that we do.

There is Need For Some Repetition

My belief is you do need a balance; and there is a need for a certain amount of repetition since sometimes the same thing needs to be said several ways for you to pay attention.

Claire’s “How to turn “Me Vision Into We Vision” post is a classic example of this! The links she provided I had read! But I hadn’t paid enough attention. I had read David Warlick’s Ethan Zuckerman and The Internet is NOT FLAT… post and Michele Martin’s Living in a Blogging Box and How to Get Out of It. Meant to write a comment on Michele’s post as I was laughing soooo much about her FINALLY replacing NetVibes with Google Reader 🙂 .

My Tips For Diversifying Blog Subscriptions and Interactions

There a quite a few effective ways that you can ensure your readings are more diversified without going into information overload with the minimal amount of work!

1. Google Reader

Google has linked Reader with Google Talk so now all your shared items will be visible to your friends from Google Talk, and vice versa. My friends all share radically different posts — all far removed from the types of posts I would normally read.

2. Tweetscan

I’m soooo in love with Tweetscan! So simple! And so great at providing excellent links. Enter the search term, add the RSS to your Feed Reader e.g. Google Reader and you are notified whenever anyone twitters anything using that search term.

How to use Tweetscan

3. Technorati Tags and Google Blog Search Tags

Subscribing to Technorati and Google Blog Search tags is a good way of finding posts on specific topics. I’ve found it a great way to locate new blogs but you do need to accept a certain amount of skimming reading to weed the good from the bad.

Be WARNED: Technorati doesn’t recognise e-learning or m-learning as a search term — it will grab posts that contain the word learning. Instead make sure you use elearning and mlearning. Read more about using Technorati here!


Technorati and Google Blog Search will give you different results for the same tag term — which is why I subscribe to both.


4. Google Alerts

Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic. Really simple to use. Search is wider than blog search as it also searches news sources and the web.

5. Twitter

Many people are now relying solely on twitter to provide them with links to articles worth reading; which I think is a shame as there is a definite risk of group thinking if you’re not careful especially if you have only like minded people within your network e.g. educators only. Personally I like a mixture in my twitter network; educators, non-profits, web designers, programmers.

6. Better Blog Community

My involvement with the 31 Day Blogging Project expanded my interaction with bloggers other than educators. The Better Blog Community was established as a result of this project and is an excellent way of finding/interacting with bloggers outside your niche area.


It’s late! Got my first day back with students in the morning…. So will be in trouble if I don’t get some sleep.

Would love to hear your thoughts on balance — how do we achieve enough of the same but ensuring sufficient diversity without getting information overload? What works best for you?


Was so tired last night I gave this post the title “Tips for diversifying your blog subscriptions”. Then this morning changed it to “Tips for Minimising Group Thinking”. Now changed it back as people had already linked to the original title. ROFL as still really tired and can’t make up my mind on a good title – so please choose your own!

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Tagging, Tracking and Using RSS with Twitter!

Beth Kanter and Amy Gahran have been discussing their use of twitter has meant they are less inclined to social bookmark items using While twitter offers immediate gratification and connection with people plus heads-up of latest news/resources it is less ideal for retrieval and sharing at later dates.

Beth thoughts are:

  • If we add tags to Twitter we have a merge between object sharing and people sharing. What’s nice it is that with social booking sites like, it is difficult to know who has shared the item unless their account is appropriate marked. This combination of tagging and tweets gives you both.
  • She is hoping that those nptechers on twitter might adopt using hashtags and share information this way however she can’t figure out how to subscribe to the RSS feed for #nptech at hashtags.

My thoughts, after spending considerable time previously investigating how to get more out of using twitter, would be to use TweetScan rather than hashtags. TweetScan locates all tweets, by any twitter user, that include the term you use (thanks Alan Levine for telling me about TweetScan). With TweetScan you can choose to:

  1. Subscribe to the RSS feed for the tracking term using your feed reader
  2. or join TweetScan and have the search results email to your daily or weekly. Via email can use up to 5 search terms.

I use TweetScan for tracking people’s replies to my twitter name dswaters and any other variations people have used e.g. suewaters. However TweetScan is just as useful for tags like nptech.

To work effectively with a group, you would need to ask all twitters to use the required tag term within their tweet and teach them how to effectively subscribe to the RSS feed.



This is my solution for Beth. Do you have a better recommendation for her? Or are there other Twitter tools that she should also consider using?