Posts Tagged ‘rss’
More information/commentatry related to our RSS question a few weeks ago.
RSS is more than aggregation — it’s the new personalization: “A recent press release concerning ArnoldIT‘s Google monitoring service piqued my interest. It turns out to be a nicely formatted aggregation page for Google blogs. The most recent five blog entries (or titles therefrom) are grouped together by category. Google has over 70 different blogs (for everything from Gears and Gadgets to OpenSocial and Chrome). Keeping up with them all is nearly impossible. Hence the ArnoldIT aggregation service, dubbed ‘Overflight.’
While handy in its own right, Overflight is not available as an RSS feed. It also doesn’t seem to be searchable. So I decided to see if I could mash together my own version of Overflight (tailored to my own research needs), using Yahoo Pipes, the visual Web-app builder.
As it turns out, I was able to cobble together an Overflight workalike in a matter of 90 minutes or so (give or take a bag of microwave popcorn). I didn’t have time to aggregate all 70-something Google blogs, so I concentrated just on the twelve developer blogs that are of particular interest to me. My app is on the Pipes site as Google Developer Blogs Super-Feed, which you can subscribe to here.
With my super-feed, you can see the title, description, and content for the most recent 8 blog entries in all twelve Google developer blogs that I chose to aggregate (AJAX Search API, Gears, Gadgets, OpenSocial, Open Source, Mashup Editor, Web Toolkit, App Engine, Google Code, iGoogle, Desktop, and Data API blogs). That’s 96 entries total. Actually, it can be less than that if a blog is cross-categorized, since I included logic that removes duplicates.
A tool of this kind is obviously more useful if it allows searching. The keyword-search version is here. (It supports single words or exact phrases.) You’ll notice that after you perform a search, a header bar will appear above the results-list containing various links and buttons you can use to subscribe to (and/or syndicate) that particular search. In other words, you can search on ‘AJAX’ and then subscribe to the query as a feed; then you could search on ‘Google Docs’ and subscribe to that query as a feed. And so on.
Is Pipes the ideal way to build Web apps? Not necessarily. The list of things you can’t accomplish with Pipes is quite long, and the learning curve (for what you get) is somewhat steep. But it offers a glimpse (arguably) of how some Web apps will be built in the future.
What this exercise really shows, however, is the power of standards like RSS. This is a point worth emphasizing. As Web content becomes more granular, compositional, and personalizable (not to mention more perishable), subscribability becomes a design consideration. Users want to be able to opt into dynamic content. This is a theme I’ve seen emerge over the past year in the Web CMS world as well as in Enterprise Search, where it’s no longer enough just to let users save queries; they now need to be able to subscribe to their queries (or the content generated by them).
Bottom line? Feed-based delivery of content isn’t just about aggregation; it’s about empowering users — giving them the power to choose how they want to consume content. That’s a subtle distinction that’s driving a good deal of change in the content management industry right now, and it’s something we continue to watch carefully.”
Here is another post from Steve Rubel on RSS Feeds. Given we asked last week about which RSS readers you used I thought it was appropriate.
Forrester Research today published a new report on the state of RSS. In short, while there are bright spots, it does not paint the picture of a technology that’s going mainstream anytime soon.
On a positive note, the resarch entitled What’s Holding RSS Back?, says that nearly half of marketers have moved to add feeds to their web sites. Further, RSS adoption among consumers is at 11% up from just 2% of users three years ago. RSS feeds usage is more dominant among men.
Here’s the kicker, though. That might be all she wrote for RSS’ growth track.
According to the research, of the 89% of those who don’t use feeds only 17% say they’re interested in using them. In fact Forrester spends much of the report helping marketers better explain the benefits of RSS to their customers. ‘Unless marketers make a move to hook them — and try to convert
their apathetic counterparts — RSS will never be more than a niche
technology,’ the analysts (who include Jeremiah Owyang) wrote.
Lord knows, as someone who spends three hours a day in Google Reader, I am a giant evangelist for RSS. But I am also a realist. Feeds are way way too geeky for most and the benefit does not outweigh the learning curve. So I think RSS has peaked.
Still, while feed adoption may have crested the idea of online opt-in communications is just getting going. The Facebook newsfeed, Twitter and Friendfeed are perfect examples of opt-in vehichles that bring content you care about to you. In each case, you’re total in control. You can unsubscribe from individuals or groups and tailor the stream so that what you want finds you.
RSS is only one form of opt-in communications. The potential is bigger when you look more broadly to social networking. This larger promise still holds and as the technologies become more invisible the newsfeed could even one day subsume RSS.
Is Anybody Listening Out There?
As OMS has just recently started this blog site, I was reminded by our CTO to put a reminder in our last email mail-out for people to add our blog site to their RSS Readers. Now, there is something I never setup myself. I rely on good old email and my own searching of the web to find out what’s new in the world.
Although I have never seen any statistics not even anecdotal, I am guessing I still in the majority of people not using an RSS reader (but that’s probably shrinking). The concept of needing to know immediately whenever any interesting sites are updated, made little sense as I am interrupted enough as things are.
About a year ago, our Digital Product Management tool RESCUE enabled an RSS feed for product alerts, in addition to the traditional email method. It seemed to me at the time, this was useful for this specific case. I guess I always thought of using the RSS Reader like instant messaging (which I also do not use due to the interruption factor).
But here is the thing that I realized (okay a little slow on the uptake) unlike IM I do not need to be listening constantly, I can use it to go gather the data (updates) and then look at them at that time or so I assume. I guess I am interested if and how others are using the RSS Reader function and why. Quite possibly I am missing the true power of a productivity tool rather than wasting time with the hunt and look method or worse waiting for the message to arrive in my inbox several hours/days later on things I am interested in.
So if anyone is out there listening, let us know how you feel about RSS Readers and what you recommend or at least what works for you.