RSS Redux.

It’s RSS day here at TSL! Well, I suppose every day is RSS day at TSL since I couldn’t possibly maintain my site without it, but an article over at the American Press Institute is also singing its praises:

The Next Front[ier] in the Disruption of Traditional Media

“RSS, an acronym for Really Simple Syndication is a Web content syndication format. It’s a form of XML (eXtensible Markup Language), which means that each piece of data ? headline, byline and story ? is coded separately so that a program or Web page will know exactly what to do with it.

By including a simple piece of code in a Web page, sites can offer headlines from national news sites such as and, magazines such as and journal headlines from favorite bloggers, from MacRumors to Boing Boing.

But the power of RSS goes beyond websites to applications that are designed to parse headlines from numerous sources ? a mix of media customized completely by the reader. Called ‘news aggregators,’ these are small desktop applications that let you read headlines from dozens or hundreds of news sites….

Building an RSS output is no problem from most Web-publishing systems already in use by news media sites. (Most sites output to multiple templates; this is just another template.) But few commercial news sites have done so ? until recent weeks….

So why create RSS feeds from your site if there’s no immediate ROI?

A few thoughts:

  • It’s emergent. RSS feeds and news aggregators are today what Web browsers were in 1996. It’s a new publishing platform, and it’s already the de-facto format used by the Web’s early adopters.
  • It’s effortless. Any database-publishing system that can output Web pages can output RSS feeds. No staff time beyond creating a basic template = very little expense.
  • It’s migrating. RSS feeds now find their way onto Web pages and news aggregators. Apple’s new calendar application, iCal, allows users to syndicate events ? ranging from personal get-togethers to DVD release dates and sporting events. Headlines are not far behind.
  • It’s multi-platform. News aggregators are a much better fit for low-bandwidth browsers on mobile phones, PDAs and tablets.
  • It’s the Classifieds, stupid. Most of the RSS community is focused on content. That’s great; so was the early Web. But feeding classified ads to aggregators is the next obvious step, and will prove to be hugely profitable for newspapers ? or whoever decides to do it first.
  • Fear Factor. Let’s face it: Fear is why most newspapers first went online ? afraid Microsoft, AOL or Joe Blow was going to steal market share. Not having your content available in a medium that is growing in popularity rather than waning may not have immediate ROI, but the long-term prognosis for such ignorance is death.

Most importantly, the cost of not offering your site’s content via RSS news aggregators is in becoming irrelevant. I currently subscribe to more than 20 RSS feeds on my NetNewsWire aggregator. Three come from traditional news-media companies. The rest are offered by hobbyists and niche publishers.

These feeds are no less interesting, insightful or engaging than the mainstream media feeds. These self-syndicated writers have become part of my daily media habit. A Big Media Company hoping to get on my deck will start in 20th place and will need to beat out the new breed of syndicated writers.

Best of luck.” [via JD’s New Media Musings]

Yeah, what he said! I used to read the Chicago Tribune online, but now I read the Sun-Times in my aggregator because someone is scraping it. I rarely had time to check the NY Times technology section every day, but now I get the headlines as soon as they’re posted. Something happening in world events? I see it in my aggregator before I ever make it to my car to hear it on the radio (which I don’t listen to anymore anyway) or make it home to catch the news (which I don’t watch much of anymore since I get far more in-depth information online). I also don’t have to keep flitting back to online news sites. Instead I get all of my news on one web page that updates automatically for me.

And the classifieds idea is indeed a killer app. I subscribe to a few such feeds, like TechBargains, and I was going to make a purchase because of one yesterday (unfortunately the product had already sold out!). What I’d really love is more local news.

[The Shifted Librarian]