RSS is one of those technologies that has a relatively enigmatic name for a very simple concept. The idea that you can provide a feed of content that others can subscribe to is the ultimate simplicity. Yet so far, RSS has been used primarily to push content that is offered by one group to many subscribers. The power of RSS is mainly in the fact that I can pull multiple feeds from very different content providers into a single location. My RSS aggregator has news from MarketingVox, the NY Times, my upcoming Netflix movies, and tips from Lifehacker (among lots of others) all on a single page. That’s powerful stuff. But what if I want to have an even more customized view? There are plenty of services like Squidoo and Rollyo that have pursued an idea that in the past I have termed "human filtered search." Whatever you call it, this is the growing trend of people filtering content for other people. It’s the idea behind those sites, as well as the basic concept behind social news sites like Digg or iceRocket.
Yahoo’s recently launched Yahoo! Pipes service offers what may be the missing piece to help RSS evolve into an even more useful tool. Mashups, already hugely popular for music, involve taking unique bits of content and putting them together to create something new. Until now, mashups with RSS have been limited mainly to people using extended tools like OPML to create single RSS feeds out of multiple feeds. What if you could go even further and filter RSS feeds to include parts of content from multiple feeds, and present this all together in a single interface? You could aggregate data to help customers with product searches, mashup online reviews into a single feed, offer ongoing updates on product buzz and help your brand ambassadors share their affinity for your brand through multiple sources of content. Yahoo Pipes is a great concept that could just redefine the way that RSS can be used for content aggregation, as well as for marketing.
Some useful resources to read more:
- O’Reilley Radar – In depth coverage of creating pipes and potential for uses
- Yahoo Discussion Forum – See the conversation about Pipes (and user suggestions)
- Technorati WTF – Blog buzz about Yahoo Pipes
- Robin Good – Great in depth coverage about Pipes with lots of resource links