Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Georgetown Law Library Blog Aggregator -- More Proof RSS Isn't Dead

A cool project from Georgetown Law Library: a blog aggregator that mixes the latest posts from their faculty blogs.

If you follow some of the work we do at Stem, or some of my RSS feed mix tinkering from years' past, the concept will sound familiar. Sites like or the homepage of use RSS feed mixing to roundup content sources into a single visible location.

More recently, we've used the same technology to display current blog content on firm websites; or to mix multiple publishing sources such as Waterstone's aggregation of firm news and blog posts.

It pains me to admit it, but RSS never became the household technology that I hoped -- at least not for reading and consuming content. I still think those of us who use feed readers are better for the practice; and it certainly beats trying to manage one's current awareness via social media. But the concept of 'building your own news' based on personalized interests never became simple enough for the average user. It might some day. But it hasn't.

What's been missed, however, is the fact that RSS has become 'the plumbing' for inter-website publishing. You don't see these underground pipes running between websites, but they're there. Make no mistake. And that alone makes RSS critically important; and a success in my view. 

Will RSS have a resurgence? Probably. We're in a down cycle with web technology these days; being pushed towards social media and publishing under the rules of large corporate entities. I have a tough time believing that we'll still be using Facebook the way we do in 10 years time. Some of the old tools of web publishing may again rise up, and hopefully the web is ready to rediscover the concept of unfiltered personal publishing.

Any kind of backlash (remember: even AOL had its days of dominance) is likely to involve tools like RSS as the basis for new kinds of distributed connectivity.

One way or another, I wouldn't bet against the web staying static very long. Or personal publishing making another stand.


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