Tomorrow's RSS

Post ImageHere are some notes from the session on the future of RSS hosted by Mark Fletcher (Bloglines), Scott Rafer (Feedster), and Bob Wyman (PubSub):

  • Bob Wyman says that the future of RSS is actually in Atom. Mark counters that there is so much momentum behind RSS that it seems unlikely we’ll get a single standard. Bob says that the work that has already been done on Atom ensures that there will be enough flexibility to do the things we want to in the future.
  • Almost all of the aggregators support all of the different formats of feeds, so the three panelists are saying that there is no need to publish in each of the formats, just pick one, because having all sorts of formats simply confuses users. An audience member counters that some feed formats look different in different aggregators. Bob says that the problem doesn’t belong to the publisher, but rather to the aggregator, and they need to make the aggregator show one format just as well as another.
  • The only problem I see with only using Atom, for example, is that you can’t do things like podcasting.
  • There’s lots of experimentation going on right now with RSS and advertising, and the panelists say there doesn’t seem to be a right way just yet. Bob says that we absolutely need to have advertising in RSS, the feeds need to be monetized.
  • An audience member asked the panelists if they could start their companies again, would they do anything different. Feedster says nope, they’d do the same thing. Mark says that if he could start Bloglines again, the main thing he would change is the name. He says it works for a number of reasons, but it doesn’t work for many more reasons. Bob says the only thing he’d change would be to have started it six to eight months earlier.
  • Someone asked why the companies feel that they cannot charge for their services. Bob replies that they do charge some customers very hefty fees for the same data that you can get for free – the companies pay for quality of service, access to programmers, and that sort of thing. Scott says that while the service isn’t incredibly expensive to run, they do have some relationships with big publishers from which they get paid every now and then.
  • Another audience member asked if the panelists have thought of any scenarios where the current technology is not well suited or maybe needs to be improved. Mark says that Microsoft’s announcement from yesterday will most certainly be supported, but said that you can go a long way with the technology already in place.

Read: Gnomedex

4 thoughts on “Tomorrow's RSS

  1. Sure you can use Atom if you want to use FeedBurner or a similar service. But Atom feeds don’t have enclosures (at least not in the most widely implemented version, only the new draft specs have it) so you can’t really podcast.

  2. Once Atom V1.0 is approved as a formal standard by the IETF (should be in a few weeks) you’ll be able to do all the enclosures you want with Atom. The success of Atom will be determined by whether or not Atom permits publishers to do things they can’t do today and permits them to do more easily even those things that they already do. Personally, I think that Atom *will* prove to be a better format for publishers even though all the aggregators, search engines, etc. will continue to support the legacy RSS formats. If I’m wrong, it won’t change much at PubSub — we read all the old formats. But it will be too bad if I’m wrong since I think publishers of feeds would really benefit from a better format. Time will tell.

    bob wyman

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