Removing the RSS BlindersMay 9, 2008 at 10:15 am | Posted in Attention Management, News readers, RSS, XML Syndication | Leave a comment
Michael Sampson pointed to an interesting article in the Venture Chronicles on The Future of RSS which hones in on a fault of RSS (or “opportunity” depending on if you’re a glass half-full kinda person). According to Jeff Nolan:
Basically the entire RSS market has been built around a use mode of subscribe-then-read, and that is likely to continue as an exclusive model for many users or in parallel to other use modes. The weakness in this approach is that you only know what you know, as in you have know about a feed before you can subscribe to it… and I generally work off the approach that it’s far more likely that the best content on any keyword is not necessarily found in my OPML.
There are an increasing array of companies that are working on a next generation of feed consumption use model, built not around the explicit subscribing of feeds and chronological consumption of content. In order for RSS to get to the next level of mainstreaming we have to think in terms of behavioral filtering of content and discovery of new content sources based on explicit preferences or inferred preferences derived from behaviors.
I’ll second that. While I think RSS can (although not always) be better than manual methods for reading through a lot of information, it’s not the silver bullet for attention management. I often use it as an example of something that can fall out of an enterprise attention management gap analysis, but it’s just one example and piece of a much larger puzzle.
People can use RSS readers to narrow down their view of what news channels they will pay attention to and ignore the rest. Even if someone follows 200 feeds, at some point that list will become stale. While you’d probably notice something outside of your feed set due to the magic of linking (someone you follow must be smart enough to notice things outside your periphery, especially people that do link and quote-heavy blogs), at some point new centers of gravity can emerge that go unnoticed for too long. It’s like picking your set of friends and then never going to parties to meet new ones. Or just listening to music your friends recommend without ever listening to the radio to see if you’re missing anything.
I like the idea of leveraging more of the EAM architecture by adding rules, filtering, profiles, and proactive discovery to the RSS model rather than using it “as-is”. I hope lots of vendors and users start experimenting with this and working the kinks out (decreasing type I and type II errors) so that in five years or so even late adopting organizations can start benefiting from this technology.
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