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RSS and Attention

April 12th, 2005 · 2 Comments

Dare Obasanjo writes:

The attention problem is the problem that faces every power users of XML syndication clients such as RSS Bandit or Bloglines. It is so easy to subscribe to various feeds that eventually readers get overwhelmed by the flood of information hitting their aggregator’s inbox. Some have used the analogy “drinking from a firehose” to describe this phenomenon.

This problem affects me as well which is the impetus for a number of features in the most recent release of RSS Bandit such as newspaper views which allow one to view all the unread posts in a feed in single pane, adding more sortable columns such as author and comment count to the list view, and skim mode (‘mark all items as read on exiting a feed or category’). However the core assumption behind all these features is that the user is reading every entry.

Ideally a user should be able to tell a client, “Here are the sites I’m interested in, here are the topics I’m interested in, and now only show me stuff I’d find interesting or important”. This is the next frontier of features for RSS/ATOM aggregators.

Steve Gillmor writes: “What does matter is a pool of attention metadata owned by the users. This open cloud of reputational presence and authority can be mined by each group of constituents. Users can barter their attention in return for access to full content, membership priviliges, and incentives for strategic content. Vendors can build on top of that cloud of data with their own special saucethe newbie crowd of MyYahoo, the pacesetter early adopters of Diller/Ask/Bloglines, the social attention farm of RoJo, and Googles emerging Office service components orchestrated by the core GMail inforouter. And the media, which now includes publishers, analysts, researches, rating services, advertisers, sponsors, and underwriters, can use the data as a giant inference engine for leveraging the fat middle of the long tail.”

Tags: BlogStreet

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