Word: RSS – Part 2

(Part 1)

Here I catch up on the remainder of the unaddressed posts I’ve collected on the subject of blogging and RSS (or Atom) over the past couple of months:

  • Two valid concerns that need to be addressed in enterprise-class product (via Robert Scoble): (1) RSS/Atom feeds are pulled down by news aggregators every hour. Multiply that by the size of the average Fortune 500 workforce and you will realize a bandwidth bill that’s many times higher for RSS than it is for HTTP and the traditional web browser; and (2) RSS/Atom feeds pull down all the content every time–even content that hasn’t changed since last time. Is there a way to only send down a feed that’s changed, or even better, a partial feed with only new/updated items (e.g. byte-/character-level differencing)?
  • Mark Pilgrim writes about the myth of RSS compatibility (among the nine versions of RSS currently in the field). Luke Hutteman comments, While I’m sure his article is technically correct, in practice it’s not that hard to write a single parser that handles all formats of RSS. Such a parser may not be 100% correct according to all the 9 different specs, but it will handle the vast majority of available RSS feeds without a problem. So, is it more important to code to a specification or to code an easier-to-maintain solution?
  • Arve Bersvendsen writes about 11 ways to valid RSS. Dare Obasanjo shreds this down from 11 to five. My take away from Dare’s post is that you need to spend the time to understand what you’re coding (e.g. XML, RSS, etc.). Coding before adequate design is complete all-too-often leads to unnecessary work and increased scope (up front and long-term maintenance thereafter).
  • Aaron Skonnard wrote a nice The XML Files column, All About Blogs and RSS, in the April 2004 issue of MSDN Magazine.
  • While questioning if blogging is a two-way medium, Lenn Pryor (Robert Scoble’s boss) said: So if blogs are all about the conversation, the aggregator took the conversation back and turned it into a lecture again.
  • Joshua Allen shows us that RSS feeds can be a pleasant read for human beings and not just machines. Jon Udell asks for HCI (human/computer interface) guidelines for the internet in general (including those orange XML icons).
  • About Microsoft and its customers, Robert Scoble posts: This is an important trend that marketers need to realize (people want to have a permanent marketing relationship with each product team, and right now they aren’t being served. Email is screwed up. Web sites force users to remember URLs and revisit the sites. RSS/Syndication is so so superior to other methods.
  • CSS extraordinaire, Eric Meyer dislikes the reverse-chronological nature of weblogs. I agree that a timeline flip feature would be nice for some of the blogs I read. However, an author’s views can change over time and such change is more likely the longer a blog is maintained. (Perhaps this is why Martin Fowler uses a bliki instead of a blog.) Anyway, Robert Scoble comments on Eric’s dislike. In a way, reading a time-ordered set of posts in chronological order vs. just reading the last post first is similar to a vector vs. a mere point–the point in a vector has direction (i.e. you have a sense of where it’s headed or came from).
  • Joshua Allen ponders how to bring RSS to the masses by covering the last mile of making the technology accessible to the non-power user.
  • Will you be informed or ignorant when it comes to meeting the needs of your customers and market through RSS?
  • In a Red Herring post, Marcia Conner reminds us that products in general not just for the blogsphere or other forms of social software must account for the learning and teaching styles of individuals and organizations to be effective: If the tools and rules in an organization happen to fit that way of learning, employees thrive. If not, they flounder and frustration mounts until the social software is scrapped along with hopes that the company can become a “learning organization.” I believe that RSS/blogs have the ability to facilitate learning as a by-product of sharing.
  • Chris Pratley invites everyone to participate in an exercise to see if blogging support can become a viable (profitable) for a future release of OneNote. While he received a significant amount of feedback, apparently it was thin on the design side.
  • Jon Udell suggests that blogging tools enable a project-oriented work to be clarified through effective narration. Or, as he credits Dave Winer as saying: By narrating the work, we clarify the work. Thus the role of the project narrator is born and seeks a dedicated owner on each project team!
  • As this Fast Company post reminds us, blogs are about transparency, and transparency is good. Restaurants show off their kitchens for a number of reasons, but it doesn’t mean that they’re giving away their special sauce. Similarly enterprise software companies don’t have to give away their highly prized and invaluable intellectual property to generate high attraction in their marketplace and increase loyalty with their customers. Sometimes just seeing how busy someone else is working on your behalf is all it takes. Sometimes understanding the reason why something functions the ways it does, triggers the desired response. People want to be heard; companies want to be understood. Blogging can facilitate both and lowers the barrier to achieving results. Robert Scoble offers several examples from Microsoft on this last point.

Since the barriers to entry with RSS are very low, why is it that there aren’t more enterprise-class players in this space?