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TECH TALK: Tech’s 10X Tsunamis: Blogs and RSS (Part 2)

August 20th, 2002 · No Comments

The Information Refinery

The Information Refinery can be thought of as consisting the following entities:

Miners: Just likes ores need to be extracted from mines, RSS miners collect the RSS feeds from different sources. Miners listen to sources which send the raw, unstructured information to them, or extract information through bots. They then take the information and send them to specialized adaptors for RSS extraction.

Adaptors: These are the interfaces to the outside world. A 1-way Input Adaptor takes events and RSS-ifies them for use by the refinery. A 1-way Output Adaptor takes an RSS feed and converts it into events suitable for use by an external application. A 2-way adaptor does both. In other words, from the point of view of the refinery, an Input Adaptor is read-only and an Output Adaptor is write-only. The 2-way adaptor is read-write. For example, there are Blog 1-way adaptors which will take RSS feeds from weblogs (or create RSS feeds if one does not exist). We can think of News Adaptors which take a URL for the site, and make an RSS feed comprising the headlines. A Mail Adaptor can read from an email message and convert to RSS. A File adaptor can take information about the file and create an RSS feed about it (extracting perhaps the first few sentences from the file as the description). We can think of a Tally (or Quicken) 1-way adaptor which extracts information from the application and creates RSS events (using financial reporting standards) which can be fed into the information refinery.

RSS Spoolers: They take the RSS feed from the adaptors. They take subscription requests for the feeds through Agents. An agent is instantiated for every subscription request. Agents have rules to decide what to do. For example, Rams agent can decide that he wants the News.com and WSJ.com RSS feeds in full, while he wants all other entries with the keyword XML in them. The agents look at each of the incoming feeds and take the appropriate action. They route the RSS feeds/entries to other RSS spoolers or RSS Aggregators.

RSS Aggregators: There is one RSS Aggregator per subscriber/entity which is the end consumer of RSS feeds. Think of these as comprising one set of end points (the other being the information sources). RSS Aggregators have an RSS Store (database), for archiving older entries. They can publish the aggregate feed to an RSS Viewer. Or, then can send the RSS entries to Processors.

Processors: They embed business logic/ rules as to what action needs to be taken with RSS feeds. For example, they can send events to an Alerts engine to notify the user via email/IM/SMS, or create other RSS events. As such, processors can thus also be considered as information sources which put out RSS feeds for re-distribution. Processors can also work on the RSS store to create specialised applications.

RSS Viewer: This shows all the RSS entries organized by source or time to a user, who can then decide if he wants to either delete the entry or publish it to a blog. An RSS Viewer should be capable of having multiple pages to support categorisation of the incoming entries.

Blogging Platform: This is a weblog tool like MovableType or Radio which enables management of the blog. A blog should be capable of having multiple categories (with sub-levels). The user can decide on the access rights for the categories (public, private, group). It should also be able to publish RSS feeds for specific categories.

Digital Dashboard: This is a browser with three tabs: one for viewing the RSS Aggregator feed, one for writing and one for viewing the users own blog. It is the unified read-write interface.

Tomorrow: Blogs and RSS (continued)

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