Popularizing World Live Web

The rare spots where I've been able to explain the benefits of RSS have been:
  • Keiretsu situations - displaying the news headlines from partner companies on a website
  • Intranet headlines - displaying latest news items from the public site, running on separate server
However, this is still quite far from getting people from bloated news site browsing to the lean and efficient World Live Web.

I'm currently subscribed to 51 channels with my NetNewsWire. I've found that since starting to get my news updates through RSS my actual web browsing has dropped to maybe 20% of what is was, while I actually get much more useful information than I used to.

Many of the RSS feeds I subscribe to are profilic Connectors, who specialize in sharing information on different IT and web topics. In addition, there are some special interest topics like motorcycling and Change Logs of software projects I participate to. I also follow some special areas like OSCOM and PHP by subscribing to their Planet combination feeds.

The RSS aggregator works on the background, refreshing information from the feeds on a regular schedule. Every morning or lunch break I can go through the overview of new posts, and read the interesting ones.

Quite many blogs nowadays provide the full post content in their RSS feed, so I can read it even offline. For those who don't, pressing enter or clicking the post title opens the story on a new Firefox window.

RSS and the newer Atom are very useful standards. OSCOM should do more to push their adoption in every Open Source CMS. For example, quite many MidCOM components already provide RSS output by default.

When most CMSs and news sites are providing good quality RSS content, getting users on the board should be quite trivial. However, as Jon Udell pointed out, there are still issues left to solve:
  • Politics - End users are not interested in whether a feed is RSS 0.9, RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0 or Atom. They just want to subscribe to a feed that works in their aggregator
  • Subscription - subscribing to a feed should be easier. All desktop RSS aggregators should be able to support the same URL type for subscription. In addition, all feeds should be available under the same term or icon, regardless of their type. Maybe RSS autodetection and hooking up with the web browser will help here
  • Explanation - The concept is new, and so we have to wait until mass media gets it explained to the general public. Before that the message will have to get clearer
  • Software - Users will need to find a good, working aggregator for their platform. As Udell pointed out, the web based Bloglines.com service is a good way to get started
Now, if Yaroslav would just add RSS support to Miki, I might get to subscribe to some diary feeds from my old and new friends from Harmaasudet. Submitted feature request on this.

Read more Decoupled CMS posts.