RSS and the Art of Packaging

November 30, 2006

I read about Blastfeed, a new feed filtering service at Read/Write Web. It made me pause, especially in light of the Bear Sterns Report recently released. The report states that filtering and packaging has become critical as more and more user-generated-content is created. I think there may be a connection between what Bear Sterns concludes and the continual sophistication of RSS filtering mechanisms that can be applied to create a packaged viewer experience.

First, feed filtering is a concept I’ve always found of interest. Now that Marhall Kirkpatrick has come out with his methods for breaking stories using RSS and alerts, my interest has morphed. Marshall, by the way, is one talented blogger but he is equally skilled in how he discovers the news. He represents a new breed of journalism where breaking stories come from primary sources, but equally as important, from a filtered network of blogs where the freshest and most relevent news rise to the top.

Marshall, who has become quite a good friend here in Portland, has provided me with a new perspective about RSS.  He’s taught me about the use of alert services like zaptxt and other feed filtering services like FeedRinse. These tools represent a new era in syndication; RSS is now a packaging tool, integrated with user context such as ratings, comments and other methods for quantifying the relevance of the media. Google seems to be heading in this direction. I think the Beet.tv interview with Hunter Walk is testament to the direction the search giant is heading.

A logical next step in filtering and packaging user generated content is to actually present the RSS search query results directly in media players for people to immediately consume. In this model, RSS is completely “behind the scenes”, as it should be; people don’t understand XML, enclosures, media formats, etc — they just want the content. The producer packages the news and information that they have filtered and serve it back to the viewers, who may then take that media and remix it and package it in their own way for others to learn from, watch and enjoy.  No geek know-how required.

It’s all about how media is presented in a world where abundance, not scarcity, is the rule of the day.

And that’s a big part of what we are doing with SplashCast: providing super easy tools for people to filter and package the best and most relevant user-generated-content, and then share it with the world.


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