Luis Suarez has written a review post on why some think RSS is not taking off, and he thinks the reasons are quite weak.
I think the basic reason is that it is not mainstream, wait till Microsoft take it to the masses, and then wait a year and see, there will be lots of feedback from general users, but I guess the idea now is to guess what these questions are going to be and build it into the experience.
I don’t use the word “experience” lightly, if we think about RSS from this perspective it will help us reveal in what ways people would like to consume it.
Pito Salas from BlogBridge started this off for me, and we had a bit of an email exchange…very obscure and abstract, as we are finding it difficult to formulate or articulate what we mean, but through exchange, and as we speak, ideas spark…
But his initial pondering is exactly along my lines, there is so much great information out there in blogland and feedland catering to every topic imaginable.
And not only that, lots of it is cutting edge, fresh, underground, just like many magazines…the difference is the author doesn’t work for a publishing house, so they say exactly what they want, they form communities, others interact, and ideas grow, and grow…
Anyone can publish, or lurk and leave comments…there is a massive amount of fresh news on any topic, some of it is: breaking news, other personal diary like, other academic journal format, magazine format, link blogs, etc…
Like Pito I have friends interested in various topics like, Archaeology, aliens, travel, gadgets, etc…if these people knew about blog/feed land, or better still, knew how to take it on and use it, then their information appetites would be met.
Not only that, their appetites would grow larger, as it is now so easy to inform and be informed in anything that interests you, plus you can be informed as it happens…you can even publish from your mobile phone to your blog.
I don’t read news, and journals as much, I follow blogs that I know will point me to this stuff…plus by the time an article makes it to a journal it is old news in blogland, and I would of probably been pointed to that article in a repository months before hand.
I’m not a blog snob, but sites need to have feeds ‘cause I ‘aint got the time to make house calls, and I like that a lot of bloggers link to stuff they have found, so I don’t have to do the running around, or subscribe to every feed under the sun.
Anyway the point is that alot of people aren’t aware that for any topic there is such good news out there, if only they knew…who knows maybe they don’t care as much as me, maybe they only need to visit a few sites a day, even if there was more maybe they wouldn’t care or have the time, maybe I’m living in a bubble. But at least let those few sites they visit be the cream of the crop, plus the other point is that you can personalise the content you follow eg. search feeds, filter feeds, splice feeds…
People need to learn RSS Readers, but soon they will be familiar with feeds in the IE browser or in Outlook…that’s the first thing, to know what they are, and this will happen if it’s in the products they already use, or made by the same company at least.
I think this is the first hurdle, to incorporate feed reading into everyday behaviour, just like reading emails…like I said I think it will happen when Microsoft take it to the world.
Imagine if Hotmail had feed reading, I think the word would get around.
Then where to find feeds, and how to subscribe…Technorati have a blog directory, and so do some RSS Readers, so this is a start.
I guess first people need to know what feeds look like, but better still, auto discovery via their browser will let them know if there are any feeds available.
It has to be as easy as adding “favourites”…click the subscription bookmarklet to see if this page has a feed, if it does click the feed you like and it will add it to your feed reader (subscriptions)…simple and smooth.
Perhaps non-heavy users would rather just pick a ready made feed set according to their tastes, again Technorati supply OPML for each blog directory topic (by the way the feeds in this OPML are limited to the feeds displayed on the 1st page, it won’t include feeds on page 2, etc…).
Maybe they’d like search feeds instead…anyway I think this is what needs to be nailed down, because they may know how to read feeds, but just don’t know how to find good feeds, and we can’t let this be the reason that the enigmatic RSS Reader or RSS reading experience is left out in the cold.
I like the idea of an RSS reader connected to the same service you browse for feeds, but this always isn’t going to be the same case.
NOTE: I guess we also need to use non-web terminology like channels, or streams, or subscriptions, etc…
What about finding pre-made feed sets or should I say news sources…and what about review sites as an alternative to following lots of blogs, I’d like to follow blogs that review….or even blog collectives on a given topic.
Feedburner VC spliced feed (a spliced feed)
Top 10 sources (follow 10 feeds that cover a topic)
Technorati Blog Directory - limit by authority, BlogBridge feed library (follow a spliced feed or OPML about a topic)
Corante Web Hub (re-syndicate content from a careful selection of cutting edge blogs about the “web”)
Actually the Corante Web Hub editorial blog is more like what I’m after…instead of following the spliced feed or OPML of all the Corante Web Hub blogs I can just get the cream of the posts from the editorial blog.
The BlogBridge feed library will one day show latest posts from each feed, and the announcement blog could be used as an editorial blog.
Group blogs do a great job for what I’m after, multiple authors can cover lots of the blogosphere, and become synomonous with a topic, inducing lots of comments.
- World Changing
But even more accurate are review blogs:
- Global Voices have numerous blogs, each of these blogs rounds up the latest on the blogosphere
- Same goes with the Carnival review sites eg. Carnival of the Infosciences
I suppose you can let technology do the round up of stories for you, that is the idea of a memetracker like TailRank, megite is similar, especially MyFeedz, where you can define a feed set or use the community feed set and ask it to churn out content according to topics you set, plus it will cluster similar and related stories, plus you will only see hot posts, saving you from reading all posts, which can cause overload.
I’m trying to find ways of getting packaged content without having to find numerous feeds and then filter out content, or put up with overload.
This is essential for RSS newbies:
- learn how to use an RSS Reader (incorporate it into tools they already use)
- where to look for feeds (incorporate it into tools they already use)
- subscribe to feeds (auto-discovery from the browser and gives you the choice to save it in your browser subscriptions or email subscriptions or dedicated RSS Reader, or saves it across all)
- deal with overload (people aren’t going to filter feeds or do it clecerly if they do, and search feeds can cause an overload of content, so it is essential to find topic feed packages or to incorporate memetracking)
How feed finding can be easier:
- packages of feeds like BlogBridge feed library, Technorati Blog Directory, Top 10 sources, etc…
- group blogs that are mecca type sites eg. Slashdot, TechCrunch, digg
- review round up sites are even better (instead of subscribing to 10 feeds, subscribe to 1 editorial feed)
The system will feed your tastes
But it seems Pito is also harping on another point:
- tell the system what you like, and it starts delivering you stuff about that topic from sources you never even knew existed. So this is not even subscribing to feeds, this is, have trust in us and subscribe to one of your channels, and well do the rest.
I can see this being fine tuned via tracking reading behaviour or voting…but different than advanced personalisation RSS Readers like: Attensa, Rojo, Feeds2.0, and different to others like Findory, Spotback, etc…
This is all based on the feed set:
eg. tell MyFeedz topics you like and you shall receive, or let MyFeedz define topics for you…and you can do all this according to your own feed set if you like, instaed of using the system feed set.
Then Pito is maybe steering away from the RSS Reader or at least its traditional format, and why not, RSS Readers don’t have to be similar to an email format, maybe it can be like TV channels.
Maybe all the behind the scenes can be RSS, but the delivery can be an email digest, that is, if you don’t want to visit your TV channels website.
There’s lots of ideas floating here:
- ready made feed packages (channels)
- reading content outside of the 2 or 3 pane concept (widgets on a start page, or a print newspaper metaphor, or TV channels, etc…)
- non-web terminology
Here’s my bit
Pito’s thinking TV, I’m thinking traditional newspaper…I’ve harped on about this for some time now, and some email contacts have shown me works in progress, I just wish they had time and the contacts of their own to flesh their ideas.
In my explanation I tend to sway from the TV metaphor to the traditional newspaper metaphor.
Here I go, it’s basically got the SimplyHeadlines idea mixed with MyFeedz and something new, but this idea has been floating around before these two services released
- Browse a feed directory
(Flick channels perhaps)
- Graze content of feeds
(Watch what is on before you choose to stay on that channel)
- Tick box of that channel, surf other channels, tick box of channels you like
- Look at your list of cool channels (OPML) and subscribe to make your favourite channels list
- Then maybe read your feeds like you watch TV, click on the remote control and read your channel…your favourite programs are time shifted, always there for you to read (perhaps mark seen or keep unseen).
In this example you go to me.tv, or whatever, to read your stuff, this is the same place you found your feeds.
Maybe you can even browse a topic directory of a ready pre-made feed set eg. Top 10 Sources, BlogBridge feed library.
Going to the Newspaper metaphor:
- once you have your favourite channels or news sections, you can create topics
- this way you don’t have to read every post from your feed set, you can read posts only if they appear in a topic (these are kind of like smart feeds or search feeds within your subscriptions…perhaps you don’t make your own feedset and just use the massive system feedset or a portion of it, and make your topics).
So far this is like MyFeedz…the concept of entering an OPML (feed set), and then creating topics tags (I suppose this is kind of like search feeds, but more concept based), and then reading content by topic.
Or perhaps you can divide your feed set into topic sections (ie. folders), or perhaps you can choose a ready made topic feed set.
Then choose to read all posts from each feed, this is no different to a regular RSS reader, but the difference is changing from the 2 or 3 pane format, that is, reading your news sections in a non-linear format, I say read content in a traditional newspaper format.
If a section of your newspaper is called “cars” (search feed for the term or concept “cars” across your feed set) or (feeds in a folder called “cars”) or ( a search for “cars” across the system feed set), which stories will be the big or small editorials, and where on the page will they sit.
Maybe this can be based on how popular these stories are according to the blogosphere.
So there you have it, read feed content in a structure like a local newspaper, get it delivered to your inbox, or at least a link to it, or print out your newspaper.
The service can make money with ads, just like traditional newspapers.
I’d love to sit on the train amongst all the other commuters reading their choice of a handful of profit driven newspapers, where I will be reading my free, self generated, citizen authored personalised print newspaper.
This would really take off in the enterprise.
[ADDED: I like the Windows Live Search OPML Generator, where you can search for feeds, and select them into an OPML…but then you have to know what to do with this OPML]