Enterprise Blogging and RSS Ideas

From Robert Scoble

For instance, I have a vision of a day when every single Microsoft employee will have a weblog. Now, what happens when you have 55,000 people weblogging inside of a corporation? Well, for one, I want to see weblogs in different ways? Why shouldn’t it be possible to see results from a search engine in order of where you are on the org chart, for instance? So, how can you match RSS data up with your domain data that’s stored in Exchange and/or other corporate data stores?

How about seeing data from corporate webloggers based on revenues? Or other metrics?

Also, one thing I miss is being able to tell readers what I think are my most important items. Look at the function of a newspaper designer. That guy plays a huge amount of value. Look at your average newspaper. You know that the biggest and top-most headline is what the newspaper has decided is the most important story. But, in weblogging we don’t have that ability. You get my 60 posts and you have no idea which ones of those 60 that I think are most important.

In fact, you not only don’t have any idea which ones I find are most important, but you have no idea which ones my readers think are most important. The only clue you have is how many comments, or how many links a certain article has (and discovering how many links a certain article has is very tough unless I enable trackback which I haven’t done cause it slowed down my page loads and had other problems).

…and Mitch Radcliff:

Robert is very articulate — one has to be inside Microsoft, the institutional equivalent of a Darwinian pool — about how the ability to discover what content is new is one of the key features of blogging. It doesn’t exist in other Web page layouts or within corporate applications where many people may be performing the same queries and need to know about similar interests/concerns visually; this is the heart of all the talk about the semantic Web. It’s simple in blogging to find what is new and, through trackback, what’s capturing attention, either the new content is at the top of the page or it is in the most recent RSS feed. That’s probably the most important benefit of what blogs have done, making it easy to author, share and debate information; it will obviously migrate into other applications, which is where the leading edge will be when everyone “gets” blogging as it is today.

In a page layout, which is how most people and organizations demonstrate what information is most important, there are structural, design and semantic elements we understand: “Important information ss placed at the top of the page, yet a story may stay “important” longer after its initial publication, a characteristic lost in blogging, which replaces the last “top story” with another based on chronological posting; the size and word choice in headlines convey a great deal of information, which is lost in an RSS feed.

So, we were speculating about the need for an RSS 3.0 that adds those features, including page placement metadata, so that the simplicity of blogging can be combined with the cues we’re used to in page layout. Imagine a page layout where a new or changed story blinked or glowed momentarily after a page loaded to indicate that it is new, yet the page still looked like a newspaper, report or other standard page.

RSS 3.0 would need to include an interpreter that processed changes, like a wiki page does diffs; a page would, essentially, need to read its own RSS feed. The result would be a dramatically richer Web, not better blogging or a better browser in and of itself. Since desktop publishing has gone through this kind of evolution, not to mention the management of versioning in code, so that groups can share information in context, this seems like a natural direction to go. The simplicity and discoverability of blogs should migrate into harder to use applications.

It could also include trackback analysis to display what is being linked to most. Positive and negative sentiment could be recorded, too.

In fact, I think Traction would suit well – it has a nice feature which lets you create the equivalent of a Front Page for every user.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.