I'm plugged into RSS WInterfest, an online conference and roundtable about the future of syndication. Currently there's an online discussion among Dan Gilmour, his brother Steve, Bob Scoble, Chris Pirillo, and Jon Udell. The wiki is here.
"People get syndication when they see it. If they know Google and email, they say, sure, I see how to use that."
"The power-user audience is the key to the rapid acceleration of the RSS environment."
Jon: says "A lot of the action has been around the writers. They tend toward being geeks. The big action will happen as readers come on board. They will gravitate toward their own groups, e.g. doctors, lawyers, etc." Steve Gilmour thinks we're further along.
Scoble has been evangelizing RSS at Microsoft. It's amazing how few people have heard of RSS or know how to use it. When they see Bob reading through 1200 blogs in an hour, they get it. All of the presidential campaigns have RSS feeds which shows that RSS is crossing the chasm.
Chris Pirillo woke up when he noticed that half his traffic was coming through RSS. It's not a replacement; it's augmentation. Lockergnome gives equal billing to RSS and email delivery. Rolling Stone, Virgin UK, and Warner Bros. have RSS feeds. Advertising within the feed may help bring things on.
"Once you find one blog in your area of interest, you can springboard to people with similar internests. Technorati is looking at assembling groups by interest."
Dan Gilmour brings up the notion of RSS news delivery. Hand-RSS works on a Treo. This can be big. His brother concurs that the multiplatform aspects are important. Steve foresees RSS morphing into a rich client, an information router, in the middle of the corporate desktop.
Folks who experience this as reading only have one particular experience; it's awareness transmission. When you also begin to publish, it becomes collaborative.
Directories? Check out 2rsss.com. DMOZ has syndic8.com.
As a learning experience, it's great to listen in on a conversation among experts. For me, note-taking cements things in my memory. The downside of taking part in this sort of event is the general problem of distractions when learning on the desktop. Several phone calls broke my concentration. One of these kicked off a new business relationship, so I was happy for the interruption.
My take on RSS and parallel efforts: This is technology in the making. It's very important. It's how individual blog-islands will bridge together.
The mainstream press seems oblivious to the power of the hive in this. The New York Times writes as if blogs were little but teenie-boppers' online diaries. John C. Dvorak suggests that blogs are a failing channel for geeks. Pundits discount the importance of hundreds of thousands of individual voices because most blogs never go anywhere; they miss the point that this occurs because the barriers to entry (no cost and intuitive set-up) are so low. If five hundred thousand people were to take up any other new pursuit, e.g. frizzbie golf or roller-blading, that alone would be news. We wouldn't see news stories that "Roller blading may not last because five million people thought about doing it but only one in ten actually took it up."
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