Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Darwin on Twitter

Well, not Darwin himself, exactly. The Evolution Directory (better known as "EvolDir") is a mailing list run by Brian Golding at McMaster University, Ontario. It's widely used by evolutionary biologists to post announcements about jobs, courses, conferences, software, and other topics of interest to the community.

In this age of spam- and administrivia-clogged inboxes I find it hard to keep track of emails (and routinely ignore most), so it occurred to me that I'd pay more attention to EvolDir if the announcements were made over twitter. Hence, I wrote a script to monitor my email account for EvolDir emails, and post any announcements to twitter. You can follow EvolDir by going to

One complication was working out a URL for individual EvolDir emails. To make my life simpler I created a simple web archive of each individual email. As a by product of this there is now an RSS feed for EvolDir, available from, if RSS is your preferred means of consuming news. I've added the EvolDir RSS feed to the Systematic Biology web site, so that visitors to that site can see the latests announcements from the evolutionary biology community.


RPM said...

Thanks for doing this. I've been wanting an Evoldir RSS feed for a while.

Anonymous said...

Very cool! Are you not afraid that someone will start treating the email URIs as permanent and you'll have to maintain them?

Roderic Page said...

I guess this falls into the "nice problem to have" category.

caseybergman said...

Hi Rod -

Excellent solution. I tried to do something similar to have an Evoldir RSS feed by forwarding email to a blog, but the formatting and stability of this solution leaves much to be desired.