Content made to order

According to Steve Gillmor, eWeek columnist, 2004 will see a lot of change driven by RSS, particularly with respect to enterprise messaging and collaboration systems. I agree that:

  • Outlook has replaced Word as the primary Office application on the desktop.
  • The nature of syndication as brought to the fore by RSS in not yet central to Outlook; however, third party add-ins like NewsGator make up today for this functional gap.
  • Outlook’s (i.e. email’s) place of prominence should be revisited given signal-to-noise issues; so does Ray Ozzie (e.g. 1, 2, 3).

Mr. Gillmor’s predictions:

RSS information routers will emerge in 2004 with the following characteristics:

  • Persistent storage of XHTML full-text/graphics/audio/video of RSS feeds
  • XPath search across local and Net stores
  • Self-forming and reordering subscriptions lists based on the aggregated priorities of user-chosen domain experts
  • Use of IM notification for post notification to aggregate affinity groups and active conversations
  • Integration of Hydra-like collaborative tools for multi-author conference transcripts
  • Videoconferencing routing and broadcast/recording tools
  • Integration of speech recognition and real-time indexing to allow quoting of linear audio and video streams
  • Mesh networked peer-to-peer synchronization engine for item propagation across shared spaces on multiple clients…

Armed with these tools, new industries will emerge in rapid succession:

  • Metadata-driven directories that dynamically create RSS feeds based on affinity
  • Virtual conferences
  • IM/RSS presence networks for rich collaboration and e-mail replacement
  • Content-generation tools based on small, routable XHTML objects
  • A DRM network with enough creative and hardware support to blunt the Microsoft/RIAA DRM threat to peer-to-peer port hijacking.

It will be interesting to see how blogs and their syndication continue to evolve, and to capture real business value within this environment.

More formative (raw) thoughts on this subject going around in my mind:

  • RSS helps to amplify who and what you know, but it’s not a panacea. (Few technologies, if any, are.) I contend that all individuals want to be better known at some level. If I’ right, then…
  • Need to better characterize information quality (e.g. contribution A lead to project B and product C, which resulted in net revenue D)–self-promotion is another human characteristic that detracts from making this all worthwhile from a business perspective
  • Voluntary content contribution is central to knowledge management and to collaboration; therefore, blogs and their syndication must be considered within enterprise content management.
  • Promotion of vectors more than (data) points–ascertain direction of thought and thinker.
  • Publish/subscribe, loosely coupled, personalized
  • Focus on RSS as a transportation medium (vs. just a signaling medium). RSS transports blogs today; what will it carry in the future? How will the standard be required to change to enable such transportation? Should it change?
  • Focus on blogs as a collaboration medium more than a journalistic medium (e.g. I still go to FNC, CNN, Wired, etc. for content on xyz, not to Joe Blogger)–it’s all about information sharing
  • Authoring must be as seamless as possible (i.e. not a productivity drag)–don’t confuse with no-cost!