The Missing Piece in the RSS Puzzle

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Lately I have been thinking a lot about the future of RSS. There’s certainly a lot right with it, but something very big is missing – RSS expression – and this spells opportunity.

Right now, if you think about it, RSS is mostly a passive “receive medium.” First you opt-in to receive the feeds that interest you. Then you wait for new content to be published and later you “consume” it in your news aggregator. Sure, RSS is open for anyone to publish, but in the end we’re all shooting at the same hoop – to get individuals passively consuming our content.

What’s missing from this equation is the means for an individual to express themselves around a common want or need and then see it aggregated via RSS. For example, automotive companies should be able to subscribe to a feed of all the people who expressed interest in buying a hybrid car from their brand (assuming they don’t already offer one). Politicians should be able to easily find an RSS feed of all individuals who support a particular bill. And Dell should be able to subscribe to a feed that aggregates all of the people who are voicing complaints about their computers.

We can’t do any of these right now because no such vehicle exists. Technorati tags, structured blogging and 43 Things come close. However, these are mostly the domain of geeks. The key to making RSS expression happen on a mass scale is to seamlessly embed the tools right inside the platforms that people use already – e.g. eBay, Windows, Amazon, etc. This is what I hope we’ll see happen over the next 18 – 24 months.

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Steve Rubel is a PR strategist with nearly 16 years of public relations, marketing, journalism and communications experience. He currently serves as a Senior Vice President with Edelman, the largest independent global PR firm.

He authors the Micro Persuasion weblog, which tracks how blogs and participatory journalism are changing the public relations practice.

The Missing Piece in the RSS Puzzle
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