Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Biting the web that feeds it

It seems the world of social networks is gradually undermining the way people have in the past used web feeds. Is it just me or has everyone just given this powerful mechanism to closed social networks? I think this is a shame, but it is more to do with user experience (or lack of) in the subscribing to these feeds that is helping those bury it. I must be out of touch or something, but I am finding the concept of taking web feeds and viewing them in a friendly article browser a more enjoyable way to view so much content more and more these days. I am thinking of apps/sites such as Xite, Google Reader, Flipboard etc... However, as everyone is so transfixed on providing links through the likes of twitter, it all feels rather broken. Also providing links via URL shorteners sort of breaks the web, if the provider goes away, so do a lot of links. I understand that many content providers need to monetise their content (such as the traditional press) but there has to be a better way than download 20 apps to read your content. I have a feeling we may arrive back to mobile/device friendly web sites that pull in these syndicate feeds and do interesting things with them. I also have a feeling, RSS and Atom may not be flexible enough in their current forms and we will need something that provides more of a back channel other than jumping back to the original website. I am thinking of things like location, more about the author, copyright (like creative commons), some basic authentication/verification for commercial content and so on. If you know of an open standard or effort going on in this area I would love to know.