Microsoft, RSS and Attention

Nick Bradbury writes:

What was interesting about Microsoft’s announcement was that they didn’t talk much about search, which is surprising given the huge competition they face from Google and Yahoo. In my opinion, a big part of the growing interest in RSS is about how search can be improved by watching what you read via RSS.

One of the most powerful things about RSS is that it breaks information into individual items – bite-size chunks, if you like – which theoretically enables tools and services to find out what you’re paying attention to. The more that’s known about what you’re paying attention to, the more relevant information the service can automatically provide for you (and the more irrelevant information the service can automatically discard).

This may sound Orwellian to some, but it’s actually very useful, and it’s already widely-used. Think of the books that Amazon recommends to you based on previous purchases, or the DVDs that Netflix recommends based on past choices. They do that by looking at what you’ve paid attention to in the past. I like this, and I want more of it – especially if what I pay attention to in one service could help me find relevant information in another service.

Now, Microsoft plans to add a common RSS feed list and feed store to Longhorn, which means that instead of requesting feeds via HTTP, aggregators like FeedDemon would request them through Longhorn’s RSS APIs – enabling Windows to find out what you’re paying attention to. That sounds incredibly useful for developing personalized search, doesn’t it?

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.