RSS Consumption

Steve Gillmor writes:

Where is an effective filter that will bubble useful information to the top of the RSS queue, where it has a chance to be read?

To begin with, we need to harness the information we already possess about who and what we read. Rather than relying on content creators to signal already consumed material, let’s let the RSS aggregator (offline or online) filter out the links, but not the supporting commentary, to already consumed posts. Instrumenting the browser to record what is read, in what order, and for how long is trivial, says Adam Bosworth, in the context of his Alchemy caching architecture.

Next, let’s incent that cache, mirrored on both server and client, to save posts that appear of interest or import not just to me but my peers on the network, as represented by the RSS feeds that I and they are subscribed to. If Jon Udell, Dave Winer, Doc Searls and 70% of their subscribers find the RSS BitTorrent thread compelling, then please send a message to my cache engine not to throw that post away, no matter whether I have ever heard of the poster or the horse they rode in on, the idea he or she is promoting.

Next, compare all the posts and posters and produce a weighted priority list that takes into account variables such as author, subject, updates, Technorati cosmos tracking, the amount of time I have before the next meeting on my calendar, and so on, producing a post rank based not just on my attention but the attention dynamics of those I choose to do my filtering with and for me.

It’s at this point in the conversation where someone usually brings up the privacy problem. Let me be perfectly clear: I don’t want to invade your privacy. I am completely uninterested in what you personally think about me or my ideas, or whether you are a Republican or a Vegan, or how much money you have or spend on what. In fact, I am adamant about not wanting any personal information of any kind.

Luckily, it’s easy to filter that stuff out of the conversation. Remember, I am really only interested in the aggregated data, the attention metadata that models the group of like-minded people who are interested in some or many of the same things I am. There’s safety, and power, in numbers. If I can identify the characteristics of a group of people who are interested in something, the chances improve that, if an investment were made to produce a solution to that need, the resulting product or service would prove successful if the affinity group were made aware of its existence.

Notice that I don’t need to know anything about you personally–you could even insulate yourself through RSS brokers from identifying yourself as the purchaser of a product derived from this ecosystem, as a condition of your willingness to provide the attention data in the first place. Why would that benefit you and the seller? Because the company could save millions on image marketing and broadcast advertising, passing the savings along to you.

In essence, the contract is between the affinity group and the marketplace. The customer opts in to the RSS feed, and out if the relationship is abused. Privacy becomes a feature of the service, not a bug in the system. Trust becomes the coin of the realm in the RSS for Food ecosystem.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.