Sunday, October 17, 2010

Where are the feeds? (And why there is a lot of potential in RSS)

As you know, I'm using feeds a lot. And it's not new. In fact, my base sources of information are feeds. I like it because you can couples different sources in a single interface and presentation flavor. It may be linear like Google Reader or widget based like Netvibes, but you can also produce read-only pages like Dave Winer's River of News.

Many folks write RSS is dead. I don't believe it. Why then?

- RSS is an open protocol. At some point in time, people will see closed data (think Facebook) is as evil as DRM. With DRM, you could understand as soon as you had a new computer and couldn't transfer the music on it. When the first big social network will close down or have a big data loss, the masses will get it. And it'll be painful for many.

- Not enough Web pages are feed enabled. There are two use cases that have a huge potential for me. The first one is a feed of artists events. Maybe some event companies have them, but that would be great if I could just go on Beyoncé Web page and subscribe a feed of her concerts across the world. Justin Timberlake has such a feed, but it's far from standard. So Ping and MySpace are covering that use case partly, but damn I want to use my own feed reader for that! The second use case is companies intranets. If any internal resource had a feed, one could monitor much more stuff happening, and thus would be able to connect different news across the company, and so generate more ideas. Or find out what stuff is duplicate, understand what techs are growing etc. A separate post would be needed for that topic.

- Mashups are still in the early adopter stage, wait till they come to wide adoption. The mashups interfaces are not completely clear, still need a bunch of coding. Wide repository are still missing in the enterprise use-case. Netvibes and Google Homepage are the best examples I know of mashups applications, still they miss a lot of features, like connecting widgets with each other.

What can we do to fix that? Maybe kill the word "RSS" and just replace it with "feed", which is much more user friendly - in case we want the RSS tech to appeal to the masses. And implement new solution basing on the integration power of feeds, providing value for user that goes across just publishing titles from news sites.

This post is still a kind of a draft, "think aloud" article. Correct me if I'm wrong on some points. But give me your thoughts ;)