inessential by Brent Simmons

“RSS Router”

Steve Gillmor has mentioned to me a few times his idea of an “RSS Router.” (No disrespect to Atom intended: I believe the phrase pre-dates Atom. Plus the alliteration is cool.)

The idea as I understand it is this: your feedreader, like your browser and email app, is a hub of information. It makes sense to want to route information from the hub to other applications. You might want to store something in a database, send an email based on a news item, send a news item into an iChat session, and so on. Sending a news item to a weblog editor is just the first, most obvious application.

Unfortunately, browsers and email applications have rarely understood that they’re hubs and that it’s natural to want to route information to other applications. (Some have understood that, actually, but they’re the exceptions: I’m speaking generally.)

But with feedreaders we have a chance to make our applications truly routers instead of places where data goes to die. This is especially important as more and more types of information are being syndicated, and as people are relying more and more on the technology.

So, I could have called the weblog editor interface the “RSS Router Interface.” Even though I didn’t, the point is, I hope, made.

Now, it’s not magic. For it to work, receiving applications have to implement their side of the interface. From people I’ve heard from so far, it’s actually a piece of cake, which is good, as it should be. (It shouldn’t be too difficult for feedreaders, too, but it’s a little more complicated. Which is fine: there are more potential receiving apps than feedreaders.)