A-Listers Are Late to the Stream

Lately the geekosphere has been buzzing about how RSS is being replaced by the real-time stream.  Instead of getting our information from syndicated blog feeds, we’re now getting it via streams from Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, et al.

This isn’t new.  The only thing that’s new is that “A-list” bloggers are finally getting wise to it.

Outside the geekosphere, people have long relied on RSS to bring them a real-time stream.  But this stream doesn’t flow from Twitter or FriendFeed – it flows from the companies they work for and from the feeds they rely on to do their job.

Since introducing FeedDemon back in 2003, I’ve talked with countless people who are subscribed to feeds which tell them when their company (or a competitor) is mentioned anywhere on the web.  They’re subscribed to intranet feeds which let them know when a customer sends a complaint or compliment.  They rely on internal feeds to bring them the latest information about other projects going on inside their company, or tell them when an HR policy has changed or when an impromptu company-wide meeting is taking place.  More recently, they subscribe to SharePoint feeds which involve them in a real-time conversation with their co-workers.  Some of them even have feeds which alert them to the status of their web servers.

These people have relied on RSS-based real-time streams since the first day they used an RSS reader, and I count myself as one of these people.  For example, I’m subscribed to several feeds from NewsGator’s FogBugz server which are absolutely critical to me -  especially right after a product release – because they bring me error reports that customers send from FeedDemon.  If I get several similar error reports, I have to drop everything and focus on figuring out the problem so I can release a fix as soon as possible.

BTW, this is also why the river of news approach doesn’t work for everyone.  If you’re subscribed solely to feeds from popular blogs and web sites, a river of news is ideal – you get a flow of information that you can scan for stuff that looks interesting.  If you miss a story, no big deal – it’ll float by later if it’s important.

But if you’re also subscribed to feeds critical to your business, this approach is unacceptable.  You don’t want a flow of uncategorized, unprioritized information that combines articles from Boing Boing with items from your company’s internal feeds.  You need separation between the stuff you read for fun and the stuff you read because it’s critical to your job.

4 thoughts on “A-Listers Are Late to the Stream

  1. Exactly.
    A-list bloggers are tabloid bunch that hype whatever gets added to their CMS wizards. So Internet gets spammed by zillions of click-to-create experts sharing their expertise for ad revenue. The fact that the large portion of computer users is trained to access internet just through the web browser makes this approach effective and widespread.
    If new users follow the A-list bloggers, they would obviously conclude that the first step in using computers effectively is to subscribe to all the sites with stupid names and follow random rants of random people with random credibility…

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  2. A-Listers are wittering on about the latest trend, which will come and go. RSS is also irrelevant to my life. Whats important is aggregation – to have what’s important to ME, arrive in a central location/desktop/browser.
    FeedDemon continues to evolve and provide this service, and i hope that if some future trend provides a new stream of information, FeedDemon will be pulling it from the web for me with the minimal of effort on my part.
    What i really want is MindReader – based on my interests and “attention” – the latest topics, in whatever form, are pro-actively sought out and delivered to my desktop/browser..
    Of course with a bit of setup FeedDemon can do this now…

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  3. I think you make a good point, but I find that I absolutely *need* to bring those streams into my RSS reader. I’m almost using that as a de facto CMS, half for personal reading and half for professional, client-related items. So I’ve started pulling Twitter search RSS feeds for client-related topics and more.
    More to your point, I think that some people just always need to find something new to write about and so create topics where there are none. RSS has been a real-time stream since forever – hit publish, it arrives in my reader – so this focus on real-time streams being something new is just vaporware.

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