Twitter is great for that real-time update of things. In an instant, things go by and you can catch the wave, take part in the conversation, start a conversation, or anything in between. But what if you actually have to go do some work? Or sleep? Or eat? Step away, and it’s gone. Sure, things like Tweetdeck allow you to (somewhat) easily scroll back and find stuff. Do you always do that, though?
Do you have a handful of people where you want to make sure you never miss any of their posts? Do you want to stay current with a hashtag (long after the two weeks have passed, and the contents evaporate)? Here’s a simple trick to net all of that with a few clicks and an RSS reader. Note that this isn’t groundbreaking or cutting edge. It’s something that I’ve been using for the past year or so and thought I’d share with you.
Prior to a few days ago, when Twitter changed their search page, all one ahd to do was enter a search term and grab the RSS feed. Pop that feed into an aggregator and you’re off to the races. I wrote about importing some Twitter feed content in this blog post.
Since that is now longer an option, you might think that you’re out of luck. But you’re not. See, I set up a few of these searches on my own. And the query string uses some pretty identifiable variables and terms. If you’re smart, you just need to do a little manipulation to get what you need.
In this example, I‘ll use Chris Penn’s (@cspenn) #the5 hashtag – his top five stories, articles, and tidbits he curates every morning from his own collection of feeds, and serves up around 6:00a ET. If you can follow him real time, go do so, and look for the posts tagged #the5. If you’re like me and not always awake at 6:00 (or maybe you’re awake, but changing a diaper), try this set of steps on for size.
Go to http://search.twitter.com/advanced (the advanced search is more powerful than the regular search), and enter the appropriate information. In our case, we’re looking for tweets from @cspenn and with the hashtag the5 (note: no need to enter the # – since you’re in the hashtag field, Twitter assumes it)
Examine the query a bit. Notice the syntax for things like # and @ (if you’re Internet savvy , then you know that you can look these up elsewhere). Make a note. Try a few other searches, like exclusion of words (the syntax in the query will be a – sign), or location (note the ‘location’ text and ‘near’ text).
Here’s the search string from my URL/address bar for tweets from cspenn using #the5 as a hashtag:
Here’s that search query, kicked over to an RSS reader:
Do you see the striking similarities? So, use that second line as your base. Simply run a search inside http://search.twitter.com/advanced and get the URL. In a simple text editor, copy and paste that URL along with the one above (with ‘atom’ in it), and manipulate it to reflect your built RSS search string.
Now, head over to Google Reader (or your favorite RSS reader/aggregator/catcher – Google Reader is mine) and manually enter the feed. You can now catch, as feeds, all these updates. What’s great is that you can now also search them using the built-in search inside Google Reader .
If you like what you’re reading here, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or signing up via e-mail (upper right corner) to be alerted when more new posts are added.