The importance of being distracted…

Of course, as soon as I start on a series of chats about a particular thing, something else comes along to take my attention away. But this is well worthy of commenting on – Kevin Hale discusses RSS.

This is a very interesting look at the present and possible future for the RSS format, and while I’m not sure that RSS will replace search – after all, to read an RSS feed about a particular subject you have to find it first – I do think that Google, and probably other search engine companies as well, are realising they can augment their search results with the added spice of RSS. Part of that spice is that the results are, as Kevin rightly says:

…clean data, good data and thanks to wide-spread adoption by companies and the major blog software entities, lots of it.

Perfect for a search engine to use, I think you’ll agree. Plus it comes with that added bonus of being reputable, human-created data. That is until the spammers realise what they can do with it. And, as if all that were not enough, it can even include advertisements, Google are currently working on an RSS feed version of its AdSense system. Hopefully it will be handled in a sensitive manner – after all, one of the advantages of reading a feed rather than visiting a website is you can don’t have to view the ads.

The one thing Kevin didn’t mention (unless I missed it) was about the new Google XML format site map technology. To my mind there seems to be too much in common between RSS and this new site map XML format, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a convergence (there’s that word again) of these formats in the near future. It certainly makes sense – site maps are, after all, selective; there are some pages that we webmasters don’t want people to find. And RSS is flexible, allowing different types of content to be saved into one single file. And both are XML and freely available. You see the corollary?

Anyway, go read the essay, it’s very good. Hopefully I’ll have time to tackle the next part (CSS) of my 5-part look at the web development world soon.