A Stab At Explaining The Future of Syndication

    December 14, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

At the Syndicate Conference in San Francisco, iEntry Inc. CEO Rich Ord sat in on a session entitled “Compound Feeds, Micro-content and the Future of Syndication.” The premiere developers of next generation web technology were there to talk it up, but unless you’re really in the loop, you’re saying, “micro-what?” This is really some Web 2.0/Semantic Web conceptual tech heady stuffwe may need a translator.

Imagine you are a member of a band-let’s say the bass player who runs the band’s website or blog. You have a calendar on the site regularly updated with concert dates. Fans who are already familiar with your band have little need to return to the site, or if they do, only show up every so often. Is there a way for them to be automatically updated about tour dates? Is there a way for a musician (or better in this context, a non-web-ace) to easily disseminate the information without the technical know-how? How about a way to get maximum reach out of ping servers when that information is updated?

About 40,000 Avon representatives are using the hCard, an add-on to a website or blog that syndicates contact information for those who subscribe to receive that information, or so says Tantek Celik, Chief Technologist at Technorati. Celik is part of team developing applications like this so micro-content (like contact information) can easily ping itself out there. hCard, along with hCalendar, are technologies intended to make easier for non-web-wizzes to syndicate that information.

“I believe a trend moving forward would be the notion of a compound feed,” said Marc Canter, CEO of Broadband Mechanics.

Compound feeds, as the name implies, are feeds with multiple parts. For instance, one signal will contain several parts, one part new content, one part calendar update, one part contact information update. The trick here is enabling these capabilities easily on the web page.

This is where PubSub’s latest initiative, comes in. Yesterday, PubSub launched an initiative called Structured Blogging, a publishing tool that automatically formats blog entries so that they are machine-readable without the author actually knowing how to do that.

“The hidden web is 5 times bigger than the visible web. All of that data is structured. What we are doing is building tools to acesss all of that,” said Salim Ismail, co-founder and CEO of PubSub.

Along with that initiative, PubSub also started FeedMesh (or PingMesh, as Canter dutifully pointed out), that works as a collaborative real-time aggregator of pings, similar to Ping-O-Matic. FeedMesh collects data from several ping services and shoots them out like a super-syndicator, expanding the reach of submitted content.

“We are entering a world now of millions of readers and millions of publishers. In the world of syndication it makes no sense to try to own the biggest syndication of feeds. That’s why we started Feedmesh,” said Ismail.

In a nut shell (I think), these new technologies and services make syndication easier for the publisher to create machine-friendly compartmentalized content, send it out on a bigger network, and deliver the freshly updated content in real-time to subscribers.