What is Pipes?

Pipes is a tool developed by Yahoo to pull information from multiple sources online (web page, RSS feed, etc.) and allows you to filter the content to get only exactly what you are interested in, based upon keyword parameters. The end result of this is a internet aggregator feed that can be tailored to show information from you favorite websites and online feeds, and only specific pages and articles that are of specific interest to you.

What is being done with Pipes?

Pipes is being used by people all over the world to, for lack of a better term, recreate the web in their own image. By specifying the “whos, whats, wheres, and whens,” users are able to view the web in way they see fit. Information that would have other wise simply overwhelmed users are filtered and limited, allowing the user to only see what they want to see.

Using Pipes, users have created a multitude of different and very effective tools to suit their everyday needs. Some users have created news aggregator feeds designed to look at environmental issues affecting specific parts of the world. Others create job search feeds aimed at retrieving information relative to a specified job title or description. And just as many also use them to follow their favorite sports teams or musicians.

What can Pipes do for you?

Pipes can be used by librarians to track specific blogs and news items relating to the field of librarianship for purposes of professional awareness, and also for advocacy. It can also be used to keep abreast of the latest trends and topics in the publishing world for collection purchasing. This is especially helpful when purchasing materials for children’s and young adult/teen collections.

For more basic information on how to create a pipe, check out this quick link below:


Boot Camp

Ok, now that you’ve got a basic idea of what this is, and how it kind of works, it’s now time for you to try it yourself! Below are two exercises that I’d like you to give a try. Completion of these exercises will demonstration that you have attained a basic level of understanding and proficiency in the use of Pipes.  These exercises have been sorted based upon difficulty. Good luck!

Getting Started

In order to begin working on Pipes, you’ll need to log in to the page using your Yahoo ID account. If you don’t have one, sign up for one. If you REALLY don’t want to have a yahoo account, you should be able to log in using your Google or Facebook account. If it doesn’t work, then you’ll have to bite the bullet and make that Yahoo! account.

Exercise 1 (Easy Mode)

For this first exercise, I want you to create a simple pipe using any website you like. The pipe just has to be able to retrieve information from a given webpage or online source and display it properly. You can make this as simple or as complex as you want; it’s up to you.  Once this is finished, I want you to share the pipe, and post the link to your pipe in the comments section of this page below. When you publish this information, I want the reply to be written in the following format:

Name: (YOUR Name)

Job Title:

Pipes Link:

Comments: (Tell me about this pipe and how you felt about doing this exercise. Be brutally honest if you like. You won’t hurt my feelings. I don’t have any.

Exercise 2 (Normal Mode)

For this exercise, I want you to demonstrate that you can not only pull information from feed sources, but limit it to the information you want. I want a feed, AND a filter  that contains at least 3 requirements. As always, I want you to share the pipe once you’ve finished by posting the link to your pipe in the comments section below.  Just like in Exercise 1, I want it to be written in the format described above.

Exercise 3: (Hard Mode)

Congratulations for being brave enough to take on this challenge; it speaks highly of your character! For this exercise, I want you to do the following:

1. Create a pipe that pulls from at least 3 different, but related feed sources.

2. The pipe must pull this information and use a filter to limit the data. The filter must contain at least 3 parameters

3. The pipe must also join this information to images that can be found on flickr utilizing a union function. (Yeah, I know, asking you to do something I’ve never taught you. I’m such a terrible person.)

Once this pipe is finished, post the link to this pipe to the comments section below in the standardized format that I have laid out in exercise one. Comments are especially appreciated on this exercise, including but not limited to cursing my sadistic teaching methods, etc, etc, etc… You get the idea. Well…good luck!


You’re not supposed to see this! 

If you have found and are actively reading this section, then you are cheating! How’s it feel to be a cheater, huh? Anyway, I commend your thinking outside the box, no matter how unethical. As the great Jesse “The Body” Ventura once said, “Win when you can, lose if you must, but always cheat!” I grudgingly respect your ruthlessness. Below are two links that will give you some basic examples that can be used for the assignments, particularly Exercises 2 & 3. Congratulations, you now share the same morals as the disaffected teenagers and college students that you have condemned and looked upon with disdain for looking in the back of the textbook, or stealing from the internet.




This Learning 2.0 module was originally designed and implemented by students in Dr. Michael Stephens‘ Transformative Literacies class in the Spring of 2012 (LIBR 281-12).  This class is part of San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Science curriculum. It was authored by Binh Tran for Bethlehem Public Library/Bethlehem Public Library Group. It is available for use for other libraries or institutions.  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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