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July 25, 2004

More advantages of RSS

NEW MEDIA MUSINGS -- JD Lasica cites seven things RSS is good for along with five reasons companies should publish an RSS feed.

1. Saving time. Just as TiVo lets you watch TV more efficiently, RSS feeds do the same for the Web. It lets you speed-read the Net.

2. Convenience: By collecting headlines from dozens of sources on a single screen, RSS (rich site summary) -- a combination of push and pull technology -- enables users to see at a glance when a site or blog has been updated without having to keep revisiting the site. RSS cuts to the chase: no pop-up ads (at this point, anyway), and you can set your news reader to allow or disallow photos and graphics.

3. Access to a richer pool of material. By building an ad hoc online network of friends, experts and news sources, you cast your net over a wider range of material, expanding the range of news topics tracked.

4. Zero in on the info you want. RSS parses news and information on the subjects you want. The result is a targeted or personalized news experience, giving you greater ability to tailor your consumption of niche and micro-niche topics. A sports junkie could subscribe to a feed for the Tour de France or a favorite baseball team. A job-hunter could subscribe to a feed for openings in digital media. A medical editor or relative of someone with MS could receive RSS updates published to a health database.

5. RSS can serve as an alert service. Instead of using e-mail, you might want to customize your news reader to deliver news on an important subject every 15 minutes.

6. RSS levels the playing field. By flattening out authority, RSS puts micro-publishers and friends on the same footing as major news sites in your news reader.

7. RSS drives conversation. Feeds are a chief mechanism driving timely interactions and can be conducive to an ongoing dialogue.

Henry Copeland of BlogAds suggested at a session yesterday that RSS wasn't really part of social media, that RSS is just a delivery vehicle, nothing more. I disagree. Just as newspapers are more than a medium -- they have historically been a central hub of community life -- so too RSS promises to offer more than XML scripts.

Why is RSS useful to publishers and corporations? Here are ...

5 Reasons Why Companies Should Publish an RSS feed:

1. Multiple gateways. It's another doorway or distribution channel for getting your content in front of readers.

2. Self-syndication. It allows publishers to syndicate content without the involvement of third parties.

3. The predictability principle. By far the most important reason is this: Just as with newspaper subscriptions, RSS subscriptions mean your content is guaranteed to be seen on a regular basis rather than via sporadic pull behavior. On a typical news site, a reader stops by an average of three times per month.

4. Loyalty. RSS can forge a closer relationship with readers if done in conjunction with a weblog or community feedback tools.

5. Future revenue streams. RSS could be a great way of distributing classified advertising and other targeted marketing opportunities as long as the user requests it and finds it useful.

JD Lasica --"Things RSS Is Good For"
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