Beyond Google Reader

Image representing Pipes as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

When you’ve mastered Google Reader, what do you do next? Beyond the continual process of whittling down your trusted news sources to the ones that actually deliver for you, you can also apply Yahoo! Pipes. While I’m reluctant to recommend any tool by Yahoo! [this includes Flickr, etc.] due to their uncertain financial future, this is a technology that is likely to find a good home after Yahoo! crashes. What is Pipes?

The tool consists of two major components: an interface, called an editor, where a Pipe is put together; and an execution engine that runs the Pipe instructions. Once a project is saved in the editor, the instructions are saved as a special kind of document on the engine. To run the Pipe, the engine reads the document and then accesses anywhere from dozens to hundreds of Web services–from feeds supplied by Craigslist to geography data on Yahoo Maps. To optimize the response time, says Sadri, the engine parallelizes as much of the execution as possible, breaking up the instructions into chunks that run simultaneously.

Almost immediately after its release, Pipes garnered a lot of attention from bloggers, software developers, and experts on Web-based applications. Perhaps the most glowing endorsement it received was from Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Media, a computer-book, magazine, and online publisher. On his blog O’Reilly wrote that the tool is a “milestone in the history of the Internet.” He added that while it’s still a bit “rough around the edges,” Pipes has “enormous potential to turn the Web into a programmable environment for everyone.” Source: Technology Review: A More Personalized Internet?

Already, I’m sick of the hype around the iPad so I wanted to find a way to scan my favorite news feeds and edit out any mention of the word iPad [I made my feelings about that product known here]. Enter Yahoo! Pipes…

I simply created a new feed from my favorite folder in Google Reader and eliminated all articles that mentioned iPad in the title or body. Did it work? Absolutely! Fully 40% of the posts in my favorite feeds were blathering about some aspect of the iPad and I was able to cut through my normal reading in little more than half the time because I didn’t see the iPad content I didn’t care about. If you’re a rss feed power user, you might want to add Pipes to your bag of tricks along with Feedly for a perfect trifecta of tools…

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