Wednesday, August 17, 2005

How to Turn a Search into a Feed

What if a site offers content that you wish was published to a feed but isn't? One solution is to turn a search of the site into a feed.

The New England Journal of Medicine Audio Feed is a simple example. The NEJM publishes excellent MP3 interviews on their site (recently, they interviewed physicians caring for victims of the London bombings) but these interviews are not offered on the NEJM feed and are difficult to find.

This problem was solved by using MSN Search, which offers a RSS feed for searches. (At this time, Google offers a RSS feed for Google News but not for searches.)

The search for the newest MP3 files offered on nejm.org is
site:nejm.org contains:mp3 {frsh=100}
  • site:nejm.org indicates the site to be searched
  • contains:mp3 displays results that link to MP3 files
  • {frsh=100} indicates that the latest links should be displayed first -- this is important because only the first ten links are included in the feed
(A detailed description of advanced search options is here.)

The RSS feed for any search may be found by clicking on the RSS icon at the bottom of the search page.

This feed can then be burned into a more user-friendly format using Feedburner and renamed. For example, in this case a new feed was burned called feeds.feedburner.com/NEJMAudio.

(This feed is not a podcast, because the NEJM doesn't allow direct links to MP3 files from searches -- the Robots META tag is set to "no follow." The NEJM says that they are considering offering a podcast in the future. For those sites that do allow links to audio files, Feedburner offers the Smartcast feature, which can potentially convert any search containing audio files to a podcast.)

For sites not offering feeds, this is a very workable solution.

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2 comments:

Clinical Cases and Images said...

Good job! Thanks.

Palmdoc said...

Excellent find!
Thank you......