While Microsoft gets RSS, others ponder the future of the web

IE7 with RSS support

So while Microsoft shows its RSS hand at Gnomdex 5.0 just recently, Miles was posing the question about the future of the web (and I mean the web not the internet).

How often do you look at the web?

It was posed after talking with him about an idea floating around recently and getting side tracked into a talk about Jabber and XHTML 2.0. Some of the justification came from the lack of interest in moving forward the XHTML standard and the move of internet content and services on to the desktop and beyond. Miles showed some of the clients he's been using including netnewswire and a experimental one which has only 4 letters (which I cant find or remember right now) Flow. And explained how access the web was not so much needed as it use to be. I had to agree, I can even do google, yahoo, etc searches directly from Blogmatrix Jaeger along side with RSS search. Then if you add watchlists, marking and categories to the mix you got a lot of the features which make browsing the web not hardly needed anymore. I mean generally you got everything except services and commerce.

But there is nothing to stop even the services and commerce sites from also serving the RSS marketplace. For example my online bank could supply less sensitive information over a secure http connection to my RSS reader, they already supply updates and bank statements over SMS, so RSS isnt that far off realisticly. But then hey why not skip the reader and go striaght to the application? A secure RSS feed which goes straight into Microsoft Money or Quicken can not be far off. I'm sure Microsoft are well aware of the possibilities within this idea and may provide a bridge between your service and there application.

I'm not a fan of huge applications but check out Flow's interface.

I can imagine there being anything this advanced on the pc platform, actual Blogwave is an attept at taking RSS beyond the pure reading point of view but relys on a hacker/development mindset and applications around it (which is not a bad thing).

I actually quite like Blogwave because like cocoon it can serve as a great pipeline arcitecture for directing structured content around without human interaction. Say for example it would be great to not only have my watchlists in Blogmatrix Jaeger but redirected to my email or instant messenger. I know its possible but would take some time to do, Flow seems to be working towards making this happen without development effort.

Anyhow the point I think Miles was making is the internet is evolving and RSS is a huge part of this. With RSS being structured content, its easy to take advantage of different feeds to do different things. Why not a Meetup feed going straight into my calendar? Flickr feeds into a screensaver or wallpaper/background changer? Local Government debates appearing in my email ? Software updates via RSS? etc etc. Some people disagree such as RSS the next plague?. But you only have to look at Apple's RSS Screensaver to get a feel for how great timely and relveant information can be in the correct context. With Widgets, RSS at the OS level and Applications which are RSS aware all coming or almost here, will we all be using the web less and less?

There is something else very interesting about the Microsoft announcement and reflects with the use of the web. Microsoft releases under Simple list extentsions for RSS under a dare we say it ShareAlike, Copyleft type Licence. Prof Lessig can't help but be perfectly balanced about the move while I cant help but say were all communist now Bill Gates. But yeah this quite mind blowing and could actually be the start of a Microsoft which can share, contribute back and play fair while still making a profit? Only time will tell. Its also interesting that between, Yahoo, Amazon and Microsoft there has been propsed extentions to RSS while in the HTML world, things have come to a stand still. Yes XHTML 2.0 is around the corner but how many developers of browsers are using it? I bet there are lots of developers keen to intergrate opensearch, rssmedia and Simple List Extensions. The only worry now is if people start pushing RSS into a place to compete with X/HTML, adding forms, css, etc. Its going to happen because all the innovation is happening in RSS not in XHTML at this moment, even with all the remote scripting (Ajax) stuff. So the question remains, how often do you look at the web?

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser. Can be found at cubicgarden@mas.to, cubicgarden@twit.social and cubicgarden@blacktwitter.io