Recently the is RSS dead meme flared up again. It is a periodic debate between those that view RSS as a useful tool and those who feel that the all the worlds content will ultimately delivered by twitter, Facebook….

As is usually the case there were entertaining dust-ups as a consequence.  For a nice summary of those see: TechCrunch and Dave Winer Get Into Twitter Fight With Scoble Watching.

One of my favorite reactions was that by Marshall Kirkpatrick (@marshallk) of ReadWriteWeb who tweeted first:

“@marshallk going to need to post about the bajillion ways I/we use RSS at @rww. dead, pshaw!”

followed by:

@marshallk I’ll write that post about how great RSS is right after I finish going through my feeds as I start my news shift.

In reading through the commentary and the comments I thought about how the discussion has changed over prior years in some ways and has not changed in others. In the past, much of the discussion has focussed on whether “RSS readers” are desirable or not for information consumption. The problem this perspective is that RSS used in the context of news reading represents “point solution” that will invariably have fans and detractors based on personal preference like browser choice, phone or computer OS. In my opinion it misses the true impact of RSS. Many people seemed have similar perspectives.

Mathew Ingram authored an article on the Gigaom.com site titled Sure, RSS Is Dead – Just Like the Web Is Dead writes:

“But is RSS actually doomed, or even ailing? Not really. Like plenty of other technologies, it is just becoming part of the plumbing of the real-time web.”

Others spoke of the benefits of RSS syndication to content creators and publishers.  In his post Fred Wilson offered perspective in his a AVC blog regarding the value of syndication to content owners/publishers noting that a significant percent of his audience consumes information through RSS syndication. Marin Belam’s blog observed RSS dead for newspapers? Not at the Guardian it isn’t.

This is good. The discussion should focus on the role that RSS can play within solutions that help us thrive rather than be overwhelmed by information. At Attensa this means addressing information and knowledge management challenges confronted by business and professional users so that they can make better decisions, better serve their customers and more effectively locate knowledge that is critical to their job.

In their book The Power of Pull, John Hagel III, John Sealy Brown and Lang Davison observe that “information now flow flows like water and we must learn how to tap into its stream” (mentioned in a prior post). Within this construct RSS plays a central role in the acquisition of information. It is a widely used and effective adapter to content sources and social activity streams allowing a massive volume of information to the gathered at the front end of the Attensa solution framework made up of the following elements:

Acquisition – the ability to centralize information and content from different origins.
Organization – the ability to organize and make information findable using overarching approaches and taxonomies.
Refinement – the ability to filter, search, curate and topically cluster information into channels.
Delivery – the ability to deliver information independent of its origin to the various locations and devices that where it is appropriate.
Socialization – enable and capture knowledge sharing and interaction.
Analytics – understand how information is being used and empower a smart content network leveraging the collective intelligence and tacit knowledge of the organization.

Perhaps the best case in point on this topic may be the process that lead to this post. As the discussion developed on the web articles and comments were collected in custom information channel filtered on the topic from a broad range of credible sources. It wasn’t necessary to browse or even parse unrelated material to find the relevant stuff. Our internal perspectives and comments were easily integrated into the articles and those same comments along with our own attention metrics provide rich meta data about the articles as well as people. That meta data will power future predictive analytics and make our whole information network more valuable for each participant.

RSS should not be viewed as a mainstream point solution. The syndication it enables will accelerate many innovations that help us realize more value by tapping into the stream of networked information and interactions.