If you’re a web addict like myself, you’ll likely have a Twitter account, a filled-to-capacity RSS feed reader – or both. I take any chance that I can to cut down on the number of information sources which my OCD self must check per day. It hit me not too long ago that with the right tools, I can send RSS feeds to Twitter and turn my Twitter home page and my Twitter client into a feed reader.
For purposes of this piece, I’m going to assume that you have a working knowledge of both the Twitter service and RSS feeds. If not, check out Aibek’s primer on feed-readers and RSS feeds.
Option 1 (The Easy Way) :
Look around. Many sites may already have a Twitter presence. It will save you some time to do a quick search and see if your favorite blogs and bloggers have already jumped on the fail-whale…er…bandwagon. MakeUseOf, as well as three of my favorites, Digg, Fark, and Destructoid, already have Twitter accounts which mirror the sites’ feeds.
Option 2 (The Harder Way):
If you have some RSS feeds which you would rather keep private, you should probably skip to Option 3. Still with me? OK.
I’ve done this myself several times, and if you have a lot of RSS feeds, this may take a while. What I’ve done with several RSS feeds is create public “dummy” Twitter accounts for each of them. As an example (and a cheap plug), I’ll use my own blog, for which I have created the account @ twentyounce.
After creating the dummy account, the next step is to sign up at TwitterFeed (you’ll need an OpenID ) and route the RSS feed into your new dummy account. Repeat for each RSS feed you wish to follow.
It’s a lot of work, but think of it as a public service, because I’m quite certain that these accounts will attract followers. Hit this wiki for a list of feeds that have been fed to Twitter, and feel free to add your own.
I’d like to take a moment to address an issue that is bound to come up. Is it ethical to take someone else’s content and publish it as if it’s your own? Of course not. However, creating these Twitter accounts and feeding them via TwitterFeed is no different than creating a LiveJournal “syndication” account for a feed. It simply allows users of that service to easily follow that content from within their system of choice.
I’ve been sure to mark the ones I’ve created as “unofficial feeds” to stress that the content is not mine.
You may want to contact someone at the site to make sure that it’s OK. The site, of course, always has the right to contact Twitter and get the account pulled.
I wouldn’t suggest trying to make any kind of money with those dummy accounts. Also, it would be a good idea to hit the “Notices” tab in the Twitter settings so that you don’t get an email every time someone follows the account or sends it a direct message. That was a pain to fix.
Option 3 (The Shorter Path):
Let’s say that you have a few feeds which you would rather remain private, like your Facebook notifications, but you would still like the convenience of having them sent your way via Twitter.
I would suggest creating a single new dummy account, and then protecting it in the account settings, allowing only approved followers (i.e. yourself) to read it.
Using TwitterFeed, you can send many different feeds to that same account, keeping your personal reading list private.
I’m eager to hear your thoughts on this. How do you get information tweeted your way? Do you feel that it’s right or wrong to create a dummy account for a site you don’t run? Are we far too obsessed with Twitter lately? Please, let us know.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go tweet what i had for dinner today.