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Aggregation in the context of CollaborativeHypermedia refers to the idea of getting information (usually RecentChanges or news) from many places and putting it in one place. The specialization of this concept to wikis is UnifiedRecentChanges.

According to [Joel On Software], the two most popular ChangeAggregators? in Nov, '02 were NetNewsWire? and FeedReader?.



For Wikis

Free Software

Non-free Software




Tools to collect Changes of various sorts

Tools to display RSS on a web page

File Formats

Potential Features

some features that a (future?) ChangeAggregator might have:


Many or most ChangeAggregatorÿ?0ÿ collect Changes which are described by the originating site using a RichSiteSummary (RSS) language. Some are also "ScreenScraperÿ?1ÿ", which means they cull information from arbitrary websites, even if that information was not pre-packaged for syndication.

Implication for Wikis

ChangeAggregatorÿ?2ÿ grant wiki citizens a longer tether. Before change aggregators, a wiki user could only participate in as many wikis as the citizen had the patience to refresh. Change aggregators shift that load away from the wiki user, granting greater mobility.

Greater mobility releases "WikiBees?" (people more interested in spreading ideas than developing them) upon the world of wiki.

What are the two most popular free software ChangeAggregator s that can run on GNU/Linux? After briefly looking through them again yesterday, I think I like newsmonster the best. But, neither Debian stable nor Debian testing have Mozilla 1.1 so I can't run it yet (without upgrading to a mozilla less stable than I'd like) -- BayleShanks

I'm afraid NewsMonster? isn't exactly free software: NewsMonster? is available under very open licensing terms similar to many Open Source packages. While not fully Open Source we provide full developer access to source code and we are fully cross-platform. [1]. Anyway, you should be able to find a backport to Woody (Debian stable) of a later version of Mozilla from http://www.apt-get.org/ . -- StephenGilbert

Suppose you have a wiki that provides a RelatedRecentChanges? RSS feed (primarilly to allow CategoryFilteredRecentChanges), a WritersLog RSS feed, maybe a per-page RSS feed. A user might want to aggregate all these together, being interested in everything written by Fred, things in the "science" category, and the article on stamp collecting. For this to work well, there should be a way to remove duplicates, in case Fred decides to write something on stamp collecting. MartinHarper

I'm wondering if "notification" or "update" might be more natural words for this. I originally named this page to capture the general idea of which "headlines" and "recent changes" are special cases. I've taking to talking about Changes traveling around and being filtered and displayed for the past few months, but I don't think the term would be very clear to anyone but wiki users. Compare talking about:

Also, the term "aggregator" is scary and incomprehensible to anyone who hasn't heard the explanation. I think it should be replaced by "consolidator". So, my proposal is that we rename this NotificationConsolidator?.

The natural meaning of "a Notification Consolidator" clearly includes RecentChanges and headline syndication/aggregation. And I bet it would be tons easier to explain to someone than a "change aggregator". Since no one but this wiki uses the words "change aggregator" anyway, it won't be any more confusing to call this NotificationConsolidator? than calling it "change aggregator".

-- BayleShanks

I think the new name is not much better. Is "consolidate" a common word? And what are "notifications" exactly? I suggest something involving "site" and "update" or "news" -- eg. UpdatesFromMultipleSites?, CollectingNewsFromMultipleSites?. -- AlexSchroeder

Consolidating means to unify into one system, not simply to put together in one collection. Hence aggregator is the better word. Consolidating changes means to merge.

How about UpdateCollector?? UpdateMonitor?? -- BayleShanks

I am formulating in my mind the provocative theory that ChangeAggregators are an AntiPattern. I don't mean ChangeAggregators? for the reader, but the aggregation of changes or comments on blogs as a way to move audiences around. This concept isn't new. People have been subverting the blogosphere for ages now. I'm just putting together the pieces. The vulnerability comes from trying to trade "up" the attention ladder without anything to offer in return except your own audience. I think there ought to be an older economic principle out there that describes this. The WikiGravitationalEffect? is our local version of the problem. It is likely isomorphic. There is a deeper point here about how to build a community, or how to build anything valuable online that lasts. -- SunirShah

I don't mean ChangeAggregators? for the reader, but the aggregation of changes or comments on blogs as a way to move audiences around....The vulnerability comes from trying to trade "up" the attention ladder

I don't understand. Do you mean that if you have a good enough aggregator on your weblog page covering sites A, B, and C, you can steal traffic from site A, etc?

If that's it, then what does site A lose? People are still reading their articles. -- BayleShanks

I'm thinking it's the other way around. If A has good articles and you want to comment on it, you use TrackBack, Movable Type pings, or what have you to try to steal mindshare, but that really functions to push your traffic to A. Further, if you aggregate A, B, and C, A doesn't lose, but you do. Blog culture has this impression that tight coupling is a good idea, but not necessarily. Further it makes blogs a completely unreliable source of information for Google. I think Google should just ignore all blogs rather than weight them higher as sources of what's hot as they are completely different than the normal web. Google's algorithm assumes sites are more or less mutually exclusive; i.e. they aren't cooperating to push the page rank around, but blogs do exactly this. How blogs break Google and how blogs break themselves are highly related I think as ultimately I feel it isn't a meritocracy as many surmise. -- SunirShah

Oh, I see, that's true. But maybe the blog author's goal is to point their readers to good information, rather than to increase their blog's traffic.

In the future, aggregating on your site won't be too different from just linking to other sites, in terms of losing traffic. Because the readers could always add the foreign site to their personal aggregator anyway.

-- BayleShanks

See also WcsWiki:NewsAggregator, [Yahoo Aggregators group], AbbeNormal:RssReaders, RatedChangeAggregator.

[CategoryWebTechnology] [CategorySyndication]


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