Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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RSS: The Next Big Thing

MediaThink has writte a new white paper on RSS titled “RSS: The Next Big Thing”. I’m not sure that the white paper itself is revolutionary, although the fact that it exists marks the first of its kind (to my knowledge). It’s fairly amazing how little research has been done on RSS considering the number of people that are using it and just how influential those people are. RSS has amazing potential to completely change the way people use the web and Mediathink highlights that. I think the study focuses too much on aggregators and not enough on the demographics of the users. However, those demographic numbers are much more difficult to come by. Here are some of the highlights from the white paper:

We strongly believe that RSS is the web’s Next Big Thing. It is potentially most disruptive to email and applications relying on email, though it is important to understand that RSS is not at all likely to replace email. New media rarely ever replace old.

Implications for Marketing
Marketers can reasonably see both salvation and threat in RSS. Salvation comes in the form of easy distribution of online content. The RSS threat lies in its ability to draw attention away from email and other direct marketing channels. While RSS can make more marketing messages more relevant, it also makes them more easily filtered, potentially shrinking the reach of marketing communications deployed with it.

Rich Media
A rich media RSS standard (RM RSS) would allow publishers to make such content available online in the same way news articles are today. Instead of simply streaming audio or video, we see users enabled to create personal broadband “channels” with the RM RSS viewers. Essentially, we see TiVo or a TiVo-like device connected to the web and subscribed to all types of rich content.

Mediathink Summary
We see RSS as the single best method available to receive information from selected sources. RSS possess the unique ability to eliminate the usual chores of search, navigation, and interruptive marketing avoidance currently required to receive most of today’s valuable news content. By its virtues, we see RSS disrupting email’s current hold on point-to-point communication and growing its share of user attention faster than any web technology preceding it.

There you have it.

Also, I have been trying to think of a traditional media analogy for RSS. The best I could think of is that RSS is like being able to subscribe to certain television stations ‘On-Demand,’ so that when you get home you can simply chose what show to watch from the list of shows since you last logged on. What do others think?

July 21, 2004