Thursday, 15 May 2008

Notes from 'Everything RSS' at MW2008

These are my notes from the workshop Everything RSS with Jim Spadaccini from Ideum at Museums and the Web, Montreal, April 2008. Some of my notes will seem self-evident to various geeks or non-geeks but I've tried to include most of what was covered.

It's taken me a while to catch up on some of my notes, so especially at this distance - any mistakes are mine, any comments or corrections are welcome, and the comments in [square brackets] below are me. All the conference papers and notes I've blogged have been tagged with 'MW2008'.

The workshop will cover: context, technology, the museum sector, usability and design.

RSS/web feeds - it's easy to add or remove content sources, they can be rich media including audio, images, video, they are easily read or consumed via applications, websites, mobile devices.

The different flavours and definitions of RSS have hindered adoption.

Atom vs RSS - Atom might be better but not as widely adopted. Most mature RSS readers can handle both.

RSS users are more engaged - 2005, Nielsen NetRatings.

Marketers are seeing RSS as alternative to email as email is being overrun by spam and becoming a less efficient marketing tool.

The audience for RSS content is slowly building as it's built into browsers, email (Yahoo, Outlook, Mac), MySpace widget platform.

Feedburner. [I'm sure more was said about than this - probably 'Feedburner is good/useful' - but it was quite a while ago now.]

Extending RSS: GeoRSS - interoperable geo-coded data; MediaRSS, Creative Commons RSS Module.

Creating RSS feeds on the server-side [a slide of references I failed to get down in time].
You can use free or open source software to generate RSS feeds. MagpieRSS, Feed Editor (Windows, extralabs.net); or free Web Services to create or extend RSS feeds.

There was an activity where we broke into groups to review different RSS applications, including Runstream (create own RSS feed from static content) and xFruits (convert RSS into different platforms).

Others included rssfeedssubmit.com, aiderss.com, rssmixer.com (prototype by Ideum), rsscalendar.com and feedshow.com (OPML generator).

OPML - exchange lists of web feeds between aggregators. e.g. museumblogs site.

RSSmixer - good for widgets and stats, when live to public. [It looks like it's live now.]

RSS Micro - RSS feed search engine, you can also submit your feed there. Also feedcamp.

Ideas for using RSS:
Use meetup and upcoming for promoting events. Have links back to your events pages and listings.

Link to other museums - it helps everyone's technorati/page ranking.

There was discussion of RSSmixer's conceptual data model. Running on Amazon EC2. [with screenshot]. More recent articles are in front end database, older ones in backend database.

RSS is going to move more to a rich media platform, so interest in mixing and filtering down feeds will grow, create personalisation.

Final thoughts - RSS is still emergent. It won't have a definitive breakthrough but it will eventually become mainstream. It will be used along with email marketing as a tool to reach visitors/customers. RSS web services will continue to expand.

Regular RSS users, who have actively subscribed, are an important constituency. Feeds will be more frequently offered on websites, looking beyond blogs and podcasts.

RSS can help you reach new audiences and cement relationships with existing visitors. You can work with partners to create 'mixed' feeds to foster deeper connections with visitors.

Use RSS for multiple points of dissemination - not just RSS. [At this stage I really have no idea what I meant by this but I'm sure whatever Jim said made sense.]

[I had a question about tips for educating existing visitors about RSS. I'd written a blog post about RSS and how to subscribe, which helped, but that's still only reaching a tiny part of potential audience. Could do a widget to demonstrate it.

This was also one of the workshops or talks that made me realise we are so out of the loop with up-to-date programming models like deployment methods. I guess we're so busy all the time it's difficult to keep up with things, and we don't have the spare resources to test new things out as they come along.]

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