CRN’s Michael Vizard on RSS and its growing importance:
Web logs are interesting, but what’s even more interesting is the RSS technology. Now, I’ve got a mechanism by which I can let people customize how they want to have information come to them. One of the things you’ve seen happening on CRN.com is that we’re creating an RSS feed around storage. That’s my first experiment with getting people to sign up for it. People can have a storage feed and get all the related headlines coming to them.
Once they get the headlines, they click on them and it takes them back to our site. It becomes a mechanism for driving traffic to the site that is phenomenal. It also is a beautiful thing for readers, because it allows them to customize content in accord with what they’re looking for.
Right now, we’re not shipping out whole stories via RSS. People want tight, limited summaries in an RSS feed, but will come to the site to read the stories. They use it as a digest and index to what’s going on, but at the end of the day it will actually drive more traffic to the sites.
I think RSS means that people will move from the days of active Web surfing to passive Web surfing. By that I mean that people will no longer go on the site because it’s fun, they’ll only go when they have some specific thing that they care about. The RSS feed is a way to bring people back to sites for stuff that they care about it.
At the same time, people will find Web sites richer because they’ll find them easier to navigate. I don’t care whose site it is — aggregating any site’s content these days is a difficult chore because there’s so much of it. RSS gives people a point of entry into the site for things they care about. I think that it will actually rejuvenate content on the Web. We could also have a much longer conversation about how RSS and e-mail will leverage and extend and improve each other.
I found a link in the comments to InfoBeing, which looks like an interesting way to get alerts on specific keywords in RSS feeds. We should also look at doing this.