I love using RSS Feeds and my feed aggregator as my primary portal for incoming information, and I love sharing my photography on Flickr. Let’s take a look at making the most of Flickr’s RSS feeds. The site provides a variety of feeds that can be used to bring relevant photos and photo information into your aggregator.
A Quick Note About Aggregators
When we’re talking photography, visual display matters. For a lot of text-based RSS feeds, the formatting of the aggregator isn’t a big deal since the information is all in text. As we look at retrieving photos via RSS, some aggregators are going to stand above the rest for photography.
Here’s a screenshot of how FeedDemon displays a folder of photo feeds:
This is a great view of a photo feed, allowing easy click-through to the individual items as desired. Other aggregators, such as Google Reader, will display the photo as an item in the feed without special formatting.
Getting Personal: Flickr Feeds for You
Flickr offers a couple RSS feeds which provide you with a glimpse at photos as they relate to you and your use of the social features of the site. The first is the Recent Comments feed, which lets you know who left comments on your photos. This is similar to clicking the “New Comments” link that you’ll find on Flickr’s homepage. The easiest way to get the URL for your recent comments feed is to go to your recent comments page (while logged into Flickr) and finding the Feed link near the lower left corner (look for the feed symbol ).
The second personalized feed is a feed of your contacts’ photos. As I’ve mentioned before, the power in Flickr lies in the community features, and I often visit my contacts page to see the latest work posted by the folks I follow. Those photos can also be seen via a feed. Log into Flickr, go to your friends page, then grab the Feed link near the lower left corner (again, look for the feed symbol ).
Flickr also makes it easy to grab feeds for groups. You can get a feed for either the group photo pool, or the discussion topics. You might be noticing a pattern on how to find the feeds. For the discussion feed, just hit the group homepage (for example, Engineering as Art) and you’ll find the feed near the lower left. The photo pool feed can be found by going to a group’s pool page, then grabbing the feed link from the lower left… marked by the feed icon ()as usual.
Tag, You’re It!
Flickr doesn’t yet offer an easy way to grab a search feed, with the exception of tags. You can get an RSS feed of photos with a given tag by using the following feed:
…and replacing TAGNAMEHERE with the tag you want.
Power Play with Yahoo Pipes
What’s better than a bunch of Flickr feeds? Mixing and combining, of course! With the variety of feeds from Flickr, it’s fairly simple to use Yahoo Pipes to mix things up. In about 15 minutes I created a Flickr Portland Megafeed which mixes a half dozen Portland-related sources on Flickr, does some combining and filtering, and spits out a big feed of things related to Portland. You should be able to grab the feed, or check out the source.
Areas of Future Potential
- Feeds for comments on individual photos. Much like comment feeds on a blog post, it would be great to be able to subscribe to the comments left on individual photos. I frequently leave a comment and then want to see what else follows my comment (or see if the photographer responds to a question I’ve asked).
- A general search feed (not just tags).
RSS is a powerful way to consume information and Flickr is the most popular photo community on the ‘net. Combining the two provides a lot of value for information and photo junkies such as myself.