So, truth be told, I’m kind of disappointed that RSS is still so tied to blogs. Yeah, it’s great to know when my favorite blogs have new posts, but RSS offers so much more than that.
I think of RSS as a non-intrusive alert system. It tells me about new stuff, which usually means new blog posts, but in my case also includes incoming Gmail, bug reports from FogBugz, recent posts to our support forums, problem reports from my Feedburner alert feed, my NetFlix rental queue, and numerous other non-blog items.
So really, my feed reader is my universal inbox – it’s the tool that lets me know when there’s something new that I might want to pay attention to. But when you think about it, the stuff we’ve already paid attention to is often just as important as the new stuff that’s demanding our attention. It’s nice that I can subscribe to a feed which brings me new YouTube videos, but why can’t I also have a feed which shows me what I’ve recently watched on YouTube? Or one that lists the songs I recently previewed on iTunes? Or how about a feed of my Amazon purchases? And why not a feed of the people I’ve met on MySpace?
This is the kind of stuff we should demand from the services we use. Most of them already record everything we do, so why can’t we get that information back in a form that’s useful to us? You know, like an RSS feed? We could even choose to share our “attention feed” from one service with another service to help it provide information that’s more relevant to us.
I realize there are lots of geeky details I’m leaving out here (for starters, my attention feeds would have to be password-protected and not automatically shared with the world at large), but the basic idea sounds good to me. If the information that’s being collected about me was given back to me, my aggregator could stop being a “what’s new” tool and become a “My World” application that shows what I’ve paid attention to in the past, present and possibly future.