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Edgeio Goes Live

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The value of RSS and tags got a lot clearer and more exciting with today’s launch of Edgeio.

Edgeio, a project TechCrunchs Michael Arrington has had in the works for some time, represents what could be a disruptive model for classified advertising. (Note: The review of Edgeio on the TechCrunch blog is by Nik Cubrilovic.) For it to work, some considerable behavioral change needs to take place among those who want to sell their stuff. More on that in a minute. First, the exciting bit: How Edgeio works.

Let’s say you want to sell a bicycle. In your blog, you write an item describing the bike and providing all the same information you would in a newspaper classified, a Craig’s List entry, or an eBay auction. Next, you tag the item “listing.” Finally, you publish it to your blog. Edgeio, which monitors some 30 million blogs, will identify the tag and list it in the proper category on its site. Once you find a listing you’re interested in, you can click to view the original post. I’ve already seen blogs set up by individuals solely for the purpose of listing items for sale via Edgeio. I’m about to test it here on this blog.

Edgeio supports a variety of tags, such as geography-specific tags (zip code, city, etc.). You can pick up code to add to your blog’s template that will display all of your listings. You can subscribe the RSS feed for any of the listing categories. I’m not sure what the business model is-there are no ads on the site and use of the site is completely free-but I’m sure Arrington and his partner Keith Teare have something up their sleeve.

The behavior changes required could prove the only stumbling block for Edgeio. First, those listing items must have an RSS-enabled site (RSS innovator Dave Winer is an Edgeio advisor). Second, they have to start tagging the content they want listed. The notion of tagging blog content is the obstacle most critics see to the idea of Structured Blogging. (Note: I wrote about the Structured Blogging initiative back in December.) I’m not sure, though, that the behaviors won’t change. After all, the most effective way to change behaviors is to provide significant reward. The benefits of using the Edgeio approach could be huge, given enough volume of users: No need to submit anything to a third party, no need to fill out complex forms, no need to pay to publicize the availability of whatever it is you’re trying to sell. As Nik puts it in his review:

I subscribe to the theory that the publishing and control of content belongs to the user and that we are heading in that direction. There are a few reasons for this, the first and most important is that the user owns his or her data, even if it is something as simple as a classified listing, so the user should be able to have effective control over the environment where this data is contained. With centralized services such as eBay and Craigslist the buyer and seller are left to the mercy of the platform provider. Blogging has enabled users to create content and publish it on the web easily, so using that platform for listings is only one of a number of potential services that can be built on top of what we have today.

In fact, the name of the service emerges from Arrington’s belief that “content belongs on the edges,” hence edge input/output.

Edgeio, as Arrington suggests, could be only the first service to tap into the increasing power of the individual to publish his or her own content. While Edgeio includes a job listing section, there’s no reason somebody couldn’t specialize in help wanted and resume listings. How about a site that aggregates posts from blogs dealing with specific subjects? I can see Constantin Basturea jumping all over this, creating an index of all PR blog listings using a series of categories: media relations, employee communications, measurement, etc. All we PR bloggers need to do is agree on the tags we use when we post to our own blogs.

Frankly, my mind reels at how Edgeio’s application of tags and RSS could turn the publishing model on its head.

Shel Holtz is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology which focuses on helping organizations apply online communication capabilities to their strategic organizational communications.

As a professional communicator, Shel also writes the blog a shel of my former self.

Edgeio Goes Live
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