RSS gets the 'influential' seal of approval

23 August 2005

One minute, a piece of research on RSS has people scrabbling around to work out why a data format based on XML is not more popular. The next? RSS is the bee's knees. As long as you are one of those important member of the movers and shakers community. If you are an influencer, you are almost certain to be a keen RSS subscriber, according to RSS marketing company Nooked.

Apparently, Nooked asked 200 or so individuals from the media if they used RSS "to collect information for analysis, news & reports and/or determine their future plans for adopting RSS as an information gathering & tracking tool". The breakdown was: 25 per cent journalists; 15 per cent analysts; 45% bloggers; with the remaining 15 per cent 'interested parties', whoever they might be. Of that lot, Nooked said 87 per cent use an RSS reader or news aggregator to keep up to date on content. And they were heavy users, although in my limited experience that goes with the territory. You tend to keep adding and grouping them until you find the things you don't use and kill them off. According to Nooked's figures, 40 per cent of participants are consuming between 20 and 50 individual feeds. More than 15 per cent consuming more than 200 RSS feeds.

I spent a while wondering where the journalist and analyst sample base came from as most of the hacks I know do not make much use of RSS, if at all although they are warming to the idea as their email databases get ever fuller. The bit that made me wonder was the sales pitch made by Nooked at the end of its little blog piece. "All respondents highlighted the fact that finding RSS feeds is a problem," said the company. "The question will no longer be 'do you have an RSS feed?', but 'where can I find your RSS feed?'." Wait for it, here's the real message: "The Nooked RSS Directory is one example of a business resource for finding feeds; a comprehensive source to enable journalists to monitor."

OK, that sounds eminently sensible. An RSS search engine. The question is, has anyone at Nooked actually tried to use their own search engine to find an RSS feed? Using Nooked, I did not even find obvious feeds that I already have logged in Netnewswire. I found Googling with variations on the search terms 'RSS', 'press release' and 'electronics' or 'technology' a more useful way of identifying companies with RSS feeds. An RSS directory is a fine idea, but it is going to have to be a lot more effective at identifying corporate feeds if it is to be of any use to journalists in particular, especially those who are a bit further behind than Nooked's special set of influencers.