TECH TALK: Constructing the Memex: Building Blocks: RSS (Part 2)

One additional utility will bridge the world of RSS and blogs. What is needed is the creation of a special folder in the RSS IMAP mail account let us call it blog. Any mail moved into this should get posted on to the users blog. What this does is to make the act of posting to a blog as easy as drag-and-drop. This simple enhancement is an important one because it bridges two worlds the world of blogs and RSS, and the world of emails. A user can also now post personal emails to the blog in the same way. By doing so, an email gets a permalink which can be used for cross-referencing at a later stage.

One issue to be tackled is that of availability of RSS feeds. Many sites still do not have RSS feeds in fact, some of the news sites do not even have permalinks to refer to stories. This needs to be addressed. While there are sites like NewsIsFree and Sydic8 which offer RSS feeds for some of the news sites, one needs to go further. There should be a nano-blog for each of the popular news sites. This blog should list out the stories, giving each story a permalink, and then generating an RSS feed for others to subscribe.

What this nano-blog does is also address another drawback: it is difficult in most news sites to see stories chronologically or by issue. So, while a current issue or days newspaper may have its Table of Contents (ToC), it is difficult to get to the ToC for an older issue. Thus, creating a blog-like format for a news site can help in navigating the archives as well as provide permalinks for linking to the stories.

As we shall see soon, these individual actions taken across tens of thousands (or even millions) of individuals can help in ferreting out useful content based on what we and our friends are reading.

Once the RSS Ecosystem is in place from subscription to a feed, to receiving it in ones mail client, to being able to post an item to a blog, which can in turn generate an RSS feed for redistribution there is no limitation on what type of feeds can be handled. The calendar we use as part of our desktop could put out an RSS feed. So could various enterprise programs. Search engines could offer their results as RSS feeds. Because RSS is a standard and it is fairly easy to create, content publishers and enterprise software programs could use it to distribute news, information and events. Interested users can subscribe to these feeds and have the updates pushed to them on the desktop (or for that matter, to an IM client or a cellphone or PDA).

TECH TALK Constructing the Memex+T

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.