Scott Gatz of Yahoo! started by pointing out that there are myriad uses for RSS. For this reason he felt that we need more flexible user experiences for RSS that map to these various uses. For example, a filmstrip view is more appropriate for reading a feed of photos than a traditional blog and news based user interface typically favored by RSS readers. Yahoo! is definitely thinking about RSS beyond just blogs and news which is why they've been working on Yahoo! Media RSS which is an extension to RSS that makes it better at syndicating digital media content like music and videos. Another aspect of syndication Yahoo! believes is key is the ability to keep people informed about updates independent of where they are or what device they are using. This is one of the reasons Yahoo! purchased the service.

Dave Sifry of Technorati stated that he believed the library model of the Web where we talk about documents, directories and so on is outdated. The Web is more like a river or stream of millions of state changes. He then mentioned that some trends to watch that emphasized the changing model of the Web were microformats and tagging.

BEGIN "Talking About Myself in the Third Person"

Steve Gillmor of ZDNet began by pointing out Dare Obasanjo in the audience and saying that Dare was his hero and someone he admired for the work he'd done in the syndication space. Steve then asked why in a recent blog posting Dare had mentioned that he would not support Bloglines proprietary API for synchronizing a user's subscriptions with a desktop RSS reader but then went on to mention that he would support Newsgator Online's proprietary  API. Specifically he wondered why Dare wouldn't work towards a standard instead of supporting proprietary APIs.

At this point Dare joined the three speakers on stage. 

Dare mentioned that from his perspective there were two major problems that confronted users of an RSS reader. The first was that users eventually need to be able to read their subscriptions from multiple computers. This is because many people have multiple computers (e.g. home & work or home & school) where they read news and blogs from. The second problem is that eventually, due to the ease of subscribing to feeds, people eventually succumb to information overload and need a way to see only the most important or interesting content in the feeds to which they are subscribed. This is the "attention problem" that Steve Gillmor is a strong advocate of solving. The issue discussed in Dare's blog post is the former not the latter. The reason for working with the proprietary APIs provided by online RSS readers instead of advocating a standard is that the online RSS readers are the ones in control. At the end of the day, they are the ones that provide the API so they are the ones that have to decide whether they will create a standard or not.  

Dare rejoined the audience after speaking.  

END "Talking About Myself in the Third Person"

Dave Sifry followed up by encouraging cooperation between vendors to solve the various problems facing users. He gave an example of Yahoo! working with Marc Canter on digital media as an example.

Steve Gillmor then asked audience members to raise their hand if they felt that the ability to read their subscriptions from multiple computers was a problem they wanted solved. Most of the audience raised their hands in response.

A member of the audience responded to the show of hands by advocating that people us web based RSS readers like Bloglines. Scott Gatz agreed that using a web based aggregator was the best way to access one's subscriptions from multiple computers. There is some disagreement between members of the audience and the speakers whether there are problems using Bloglines from mobile devices which prevent it from being the solution to this problem.

From the audience, Dave Winer asks Dave Sifry why Technorati invented Attention.Xml instead of reusing OPML. The response was that the problem was beyond just synchronizing the list of feeds the user is subscribed to.

Steve Gillmor ended the session by pointing out that once RSS usage becomes widespread someone will have to solve the problem once and for all.  


Sunday, June 26, 2005 7:01:50 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
You know Dare, I used RSSBandit a lot (and also SharpReader) and I faced the multiple-stations problem.

Then I decided to build my own online aggregator, t3h Blox0r, and all my problems were solved.

Believe it or not, in the future the browser will be the aggregator, to the demise of the client version.

Unfortunately HTML is not rich enough. I bet there will be a XAML version that will take over the world.
Good for everybody.

It only reinforces the premise that online content is meant to be online.

Signed, t3h Blox0r
Sunday, June 26, 2005 10:28:02 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)

Great summary of the discussion. And it was a pleasure meeting you for the first time at Gnomedex, too!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005 5:50:25 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Great summary, Dare. I was the one that made the comment that using web-based aggregators, like Bloglines, makes accessing my feeds possible and enjoyable across all kinds of devices, including my Smartphone and Pocket PC. But I agree that it's not a perfect solution. The big thing that web-based aggregators don't provide is offline reading. For people like me, that are almost always connected (via WiFi or GPRS), that's not an issue, but I understand how that's a big sticking point for some.

Hopefully we'll see a robust and elegant solution soon! I want my RSS everywhere I go! :-)


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