I missed the first few minutes of this talk.
Bob Wyman of PubSub stated he believed Atom was the future of syndication. Other formats would eventually be legacy formats that would be analogous to RTF in the word processing world. They will be supported but rarely chosen for new efforts in the future.
Mark Fletcher of Bloglines then interjected and pleaded with the audience to stop the practice of providing the same feed in multiple formats. Bob Wyman agreed with his plea and also encouraged members of the audience to pick one format and stick to it. Having the same feed in multiple syndication formats confuses end users who are trying to subscribe to the feed and leads to duplicate items showing up in search engines that specialize in syndication formats like PubSub, Feedster or the Bloglines search features.
A member of the audience responded that he used multiple formats because different aggregators support some formats better than others. Bob Wyman replied that bugs in aggregators should result in putting pressure on RSS aggregator developers to fix them instead of causing confusion to end users by spitting multiple versions of the same feed. Bob then advocated using picking Atom since a lot of lessons had been learned via the IETF process to improve the format. Another audience member mentioned that 95% of his syndication traffic was for his RSS feed not his Atom feed so he knows which format is winning in the market place.
A question was raised about whether the admonition to avoid multiple versions of feed also included sites that have multiple feeds for separate categories of content. The specific example was having a regular feed and a podcast feed. Bob Wyman thought that this was not a problem. The problem was the same content served in different formats.
The discussion then switched to ads in feeds. Scott Rafer of Feedster said that he agreed with Microsoft's presentation from the previous day that Subscribing is a new paradigm that has come after Browsing and Searching for content. Although we have figured out how to provide ads to support Browse & Search scenarios we are still experimenting with how to provide ads to support the Subscribe scenarios. Some sites like the New York Times uses RSS to draw people to its website by providing excerpts in its feeds. Certain consultants have full text feeds which they view as advertising their services. While others put ads in their feeds. Bob Wyman mentioned that PubSub is waiting to see which mechanism the market settles on for having advertising in feeds before deciding on approach. Bob Wyman added that finding a model for advertising and syndication was imperative so that intermediary services like PubSub, Feedster and Bloglines can continue to exist. An audience member then followed up and asked why these services couldn't survive by providing free services to the general public and charging corporate users instead of resorting to advertising. The response was that both PubSub and Feedster already have corporate customers who they charge for their services but this revenue is not be enough for them to continue providing services to the general public. The Bloglines team considered having fee-based services but discarded the idea because they felt it would be a death-knell for the service given that most service providers on the Web are free not fee-based.
An audience member asked if any of the services would have done anything different two years ago when they started given the knowledge they had now. The answers were that Feedster would have chosen a different back-end architecture, Bloglines would have picked a better name and PubSub would have started a few months to a year sooner.
I asked the speakers what features they felt were either missing in RSS or not being exploited. Mark Fletcher said that he would like to see more usage of the various comment related extensions to RSS which currently aren't supported by Bloglines because they aren't in widespread use. The other speakers mentioned that they will support whatever the market decides is of value.