More on the idea for RSS 3.0

Robert Scoble describes more of the conversation we had over lunch last week, adding a good deal of detail about his ideas. Good stuff, to which I’d add:

Scoble: have a vision of a day when every single Microsoft employee will have a weblog. Now, what happens when you have 55,000 people weblogging inside of a corporation? Well, for one, I want to see weblogs in different ways? Why shouldn’t it be possible to see results from a search engine in order of where you are on the org chart, for instance? So, how can you match RSS data up with your domain data that’s stored in Exchange and/or other corporate data stores?

How about seeing data from corporate webloggers based on revenues? Or other metrics?

I have a vision of a day when we won’t think of Weblogs as things at all, but that the ease-of-use of the blog, especially syndication and ease of discovery are integrated into the application environments we use. This means that there won’t be 55,000 blogs in Microsoft, but that the most interesting information available is highlighted for all to see, given the requirements of confidentiality that may exist. So, a manager with a high revenue level, as Robert says, may enable a “blog and syndicate my email thread ratings” which would create a weighted list of people they communicate with and aggregate those people’s public data (blog postings, non-confidential documents, schedule, etc.) in a “view” of that manager’s world. This would allow someone trying to figure out where the important activity in the company is taking place. It could even be extended in certain ways to the public and shareholders, so that people could assess the performance of the company more effectively.

The point is not to have blogs, but to have a roadmap to the information that matters.

Scoble: Also, one thing I miss is being able to tell readers what I think are my most important items. Look at the function of a newspaper designer. That guy plays a huge amount of value. Look at your average newspaper. You know that the biggest and top-most headline is what the newspaper has decided is the most important story. But, in weblogging we don’t have that ability. You get my 60 posts and you have no idea which ones of those 60 that I think are most important.

In fact, you not only don’t have any idea which ones I find are most important, but you have no idea which ones my readers think are most important. The only clue you have is how many comments, or how many links a certain article has (and discovering how many links a certain article has is very tough unless I enable trackback which I haven’t done cause it slowed down my page loads and had other problems).

Here’s where the page placement and other factors, such as the number of hits or comments or trackbacks a posting gets, are important to the dynamic display of information. There are a variety of ways to handle this, including page placement data so that you could have two “top stories,” one a banner headline and the other a tombstone at the top of the page that attracts attention without distracting from the other story. One could argue that Michael Jackson buried the protests against Bush last week because on most Web sites Michael got top billing even though his fate is hardly important in the geopolitical landscape.

The first section of Scoble’s comments are very easy to automate, especially behind the firewall. The second requires some heuristic processing to create the weighted values that elevate a story, that deal with notions of timeliness and enduring importance (Michael vs. Anti-Bush demonstrations), and significant thought on the author’s part.

We all have a press available to us today, but that doesn’t make us all Ben Franklin, who knew how to use his press to get the most mileage for his ideas.

Author: Mitch Ratcliffe

Mitch Ratcliffe is a veteran entrepreneur, journalist and business model hacker. He operates this site, which is a collection of the blogs he's published over the years, as well as an archive of his professional publishing record. As always, this is a work in progress. Such is life.

One thought on “More on the idea for RSS 3.0”

  1. News Filters

    Mitch Ratcliffe’s conversation with Robert Scoble rightly points out the power that newspaper page designers exercise in shaping our attention to the stories the papers report. On target, and a helpful reminder about the invisible agencies that i…

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