RSS, Twitter and lifestreaming: Is there an engagement somewhere?

Quite a bit of buzz today over the news from Matt Mullenweg that WordPress.com supports RSS Cloud, a new development in the evolution of RSS.

Created by Dave Winer, RSS Cloud basically involves the push-notification to subscribers of your RSS feed that there’s new content available.

Dave Winer’s diagram shows the concept very clearly, and he’s written an easy-to-understand RSS Cloud walkthrough.

The key word here is ‘push.’ Unlike standard RSS which polls your subscriptions on a timed schedule – the default in most RSS services is once an hour – RSS Cloud will let you know of new or updated content the instant it’s published.

So why should you care about this, especially as there’s only one RSS reader the service works with at the moment – River2, also from Dave Winer?

Well, the idea of no longer having to wait for content is what would appeal to me, especially if it gives me an edge in some way. That edge could be as simple as hearing about news or information on something my friends are saying, to getting informed about a business deal before my competitors do, the instant that new information is posted or sent.

You can think up other advantages.

It’s a bit like how Twitter works, isn’t it? You write a tweet, hit send, it goes instantly to the cloud and out to your followers via whatever means they prefer – the web, desktop apps, mobile apps, even via RSS.

I think the appeal of the RSS Cloud service would be amplified hugely if you could use a single app or service to receive all or part (you choose) of the content that interests you, whether it’s via RSS, Twitter, from social networking sites like Facebook, or wherever.

More significantly, you’d be able to interact with that content in a single location, ie, the app or service you use. No more jumping from app to app.

We’re already seeing such service integration in Twitter applications like TweetDeck and Seesmic Desktop – just two examples – which let you run multiple Twitter accounts and bring in content from your Facebook account, which you can then interact with, all in a single application.

There are also services like Friendfeed that do similar things via the web (although the future still isn’t wholly clear for Friendfeed following its acquisition by Facebook last month) and newer ones like Posterous.

Is this really just a way of seeing how lifestreaming is evolving? And if I’m saying that the RSS Cloud suggests an engagement with Twitter, what’s next? The marriage?

Let’s not rush things. We’d need to see if and how an engagement is going to work – and whether the partners are genuinely compatible – before any serious commitment.

Btw, if you run self-hosted WordPress, you can try it out right now – there’s an RSS Cloud plugin for WordPress. Not sure what you’d be trying out (would someone let me know?), but you’ll be at the edge already.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Ed Tennant

    Have you heard that Google is getting into the update game? Now if you add a social gadget to your iGoogle home page and allow your Friends group access they can see what you have been doing as you interact with the gadget. So far it seems to be mostly games to play with friends but I can envision a passive stream of online activity being available in the future.

  2. Dave Fleet

    I wonder how many people will really benefit from this. It’s neat and I’ll certainly try it out, but unless you’re on the bleeding edge and making a living from being the first to break news, how useful is it to be a few minutes faster?

    I do agree that this kind of app could be useful for those people who want to aggregate services in real-time. Again, though, that’s a niche audience.

    The geek (not too deep) inside me says this is neat, but otherwise it doesn’t seem to mean much. What am I missing?

  3. Danny Whatmough

    Interesting to see what happens here, but the app you talk about sounds a bit like a glorified feed reader, which hasn’t really ever taken off.

    I also think there is an information overload issue here. I still subscribe to blogs where I want to read every single post in my feed reader (including this blog ;)) and I’ll subscribe to others where I’m less concerned about the content though Twitter etc.

    Don’t forget that in many ways, Twitter is already an RSS aggregator, so this service would essentially be an extension of this trend. I blogged on this issue yesterday: http://www.dannywhatmough.com/2009/09/06/why-twitter-will-save-rss/

    • neville

      The beauty of it, Danny, is that it gives you another choice. Assuming you can see value in it (see comments above).

      So we have choice overload :)

  4. Gavin

    Have you taken a look at Snippee.com? It’s a service that lets you read all your social news in one feed and can group and filter your friends’ social content. So, if John says something on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – it groups all his content together without him needing to be a member.

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