TECH TALK: RSS, Blogs and Beyond: Events Horizon

So far, when we have talked of RSS items, weve been limited to thinking of talking about news items and blog posts. But it does not have to be so. The basic format that RSS allows item, description and link can also be extended to enterprise events and other streams. For example, the accounting program could create an RSS feed of all transactions that take place, thus allowing managers to subscribe to all payment receipt events. On a different note, a site could publish a list of holidays and festivals, which could be subscribed to by interested individuals. Or, a newspaper could publish a list of classifieds as an RSS feed, and users could set up filters based on specific fields.

What we are saying here is that the RSS feed concept could be extended to become a much broader Events Stream with different sites and software applications publishing these feeds for users to subscribe to. This is information-push (as opposed to information-pull, that we do when we go to a web page) with a twist there is no need for a web browser. Combined with the previous idea of an RSS Mailbox, these events could be delivered right to our mailbox.

At first glance, this may seem very similar to setting up Alerts. But there is an important difference. The concept here is more akin to what Tibcos Vivek Ranadive describes as an Information Bus. Information (or Event) publishers create RSS streams and publish it. Whenever the RSS feed is updated, the site can ping a central server which can then bot the feed, and then distribute the events to the subscribers. Whoever is interested in receiving the information can simply subscribe to the specific feed and then set up filters to get the information desired. This is very different from the information source being directly told to send out alerts or the actual items when an event happens, or the user polling to check if updates have taken place.

So, from a users perspective, think of sitting in front of a screen and watching an Events Horizon. The user has set up the subscriptions to the feeds that he is interested in, and the events that match the filters set by the user would then flow on to this Events Horizon. Once the user comes across an event of interest, then the user can take various actions on it post it a blog (which would then itself publish an RSS feed to complete the flow), comment on it, or forward it to someone else.

The Events Horizon becomes the basis for creating an Information Refinery on one side for processing information, and a Digital Dashboard from the user-side to display information. To enable this infrastructure, what is needed is for applications and databases to start publishing RSS feeds of the state changes that take place. Taken together, these ideas could form the basis for a new, information-rich, event-driven desktop.

Tomorrow: SMBmeta.xml and BlogMeta.xml

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.