Now social streams have largely eclipsed RSS readers, and the feed reading service I’ve used for years — Bloglines — will soon go dark. Dave Winer thinks the RSS ecosystem could be rebooted, and argues for centralized subscription handling on the next turn of the crank. Of course definitions tend to blur when we talk about centralized versus decentralized services.
Here now, more Uncertainty and Doubt surrounding RSS readers as the future of consuming web pages. I wouldn’t expect this from the one guy I most respect when it comes to future developments in computer technology. I have followed Jon Udell’s shining example each step of the way from Radio Userland to Bloglines. And I breathed deeply the religion of loosely coupled services tied together with ‘services’ like pub/sub or RSS feeds. The flexibility and robustness of not letting a single vendor or purveyor of a free services to me was obvious. However I have fallen prey to the siren song of social media, starting with Digg, Flickr, Google Reader, LinkedIn. Each one claiming some amount of market share, but none of them anticipating the wild popularity of Friendster, MySpace and now Facebook. I actively participate in Facebook to help keep everyone energized and to let them know someone is reading the stuff they post. I want this service to succeed. And by all accounts it’s succeeding beyond its wildest dreams, through advertising revenue.
But who wants to be marketed to? Doc Searles argued rightly our personal information is ours, our ‘attention’ is ours. He wants something like a Vendor Relationship Management service where we keep our ‘profile’ information and dole out the absolute minimum necessary to participate online or do commerce. And Jon in this article uses the elmcity project as a sterling example of how many stovepipe social networks in which we participate. Jon’s work with elmcity is an ongoing attempt to have events be ‘subscribe-enabled’ the way blogs or online news websites are already. Each online calendar program has a web presence, but usually does not have a comparable publication/subscription service like RSS or iCalendar formats associated with them. To ‘really’ know what is going requires a network of event curators who can manage the data feeds that then get plugged into an information hub that aggregates all the events in a geographical region. It’s all loosely coupled and more robust than trying to get everyone to adopt a single calendar.
Which brings us back to the online personal data store, why can’t we have a ‘hub’ that aggregates these ‘services’ we participate in but contain the single source of profile information that we manage and dole out? In that way I’m not hostage to End User Licenses and the attendant risks of letting someone else be my profile steward. Instead I can manage it and let the services subscribe to my hub, and all my ‘data stores’ can exist across all the social networks that exist or may exist. No Lock In. Think about this, I cannot export all the little write-ups and comments on made on headlines I posted in Bloglines. I could export my Blogroll though, using OPML (thanks Dave Winer!) Similarly I won’t ever be able export any of my numerous status updates in Facebook. In fact as near as I can tell there is no Export Button anywhere for anything. It’s like AOL, an internet cul-de-sac that we all willingly participate in, never considering consequences.
- No, RSS Is Not Dead, and Neither Are RSS Readers (gigaom.com)