Now blogging at diego's weblog. See you over there!

not email: RSS!

This article in the WSJ (registration required) talks about RSS as an alternative to email. Quote:

[...] Look at it like this: E-mail is our default window on the Internet. It's where pretty much everything ends up. I have received more than 1,000 e-mails in the past week. The vast bulk of that is automated--newsletters, newsgroup messages, dispatches from databases, press releases and whatnot. The rest is personal e-mail (a pathetically small amount, I admit), readers' mail (which I love, keep sending it) and junk. While it makes some sense to have all this stuff in one place, it's hard to find what I need, and it makes my inbox a honey pot for spammers. And when I go on holiday, it all piles up. Now, what if all that automated stuff was somewhere else, delivered through a different mechanism you could tweak, search through easily, and which wasn't laced with spam? Your inbox would just be what is e-mail, from your boss or Auntie Lola.

Enter the RSS feed. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, Rich Site Summary or variations of the two, depending on who you talk to. It's a format that allows folk to feed globs of information -- updates to a Web site, an online journal (a Weblog, or blog), news -- to others. These feeds appear in programs called news readers, which look a bit like e-mail programs.

This also makes sense for those folk who may not subscribe to e-mail alerts, but who regularly visit any number of Web sites for news, weather, movies, village jamborees, books, garden furniture, or whatever. Instead of having to trawl through those Web sites each morning, or each week, or whenever you remember, you can add their RSS feeds to your list and monitor them all from one place.


Part of it means throwing away what we traditionally think of as "news." Corporations are beginning to sense that blogs make an excellent in-house forum for employees. Small companies have found that running a blog for their customers -- say a real-estate agent sharing news and opinions about the neighbourhood property market -- pays better than any newspaper ad. Individuals -- consultants, columnists, one-man bands -- have, through well-designed, well-maintained blogs, built a critical mass of readers, some of whom become paying customers or subscribers. Teachers are finding RSS feeds useful for channelling subject matter to classrooms and sharing material with other teachers.

Nothing new, really, but interesting in that the summary is quite on the mark, and with little hype. RSS is definitely a candidate to replace email, but it's not going to go away anytime soon. We can chip away at the edges of it though, particularly for one-to-many (not one-to-one, or many-to-many) communication.

Later: I guess my brain blocked it out at first, but I just noticed that clevercactus gets mentioned in the article as one of the tools to try to get started with RSS in the "for more information" sidebar. Cool!.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on June 26 2003 at 10:56 AM

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