Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Thursday, August 18, 2005

RSS Enterprise Syndication Servers And NewsMastering: What's Next?

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On the RSS enterprise front there is a lot going on that is not readily apparent yet. A number of companies are readying new products and services which should an order of magnitude better than the RSS newsmastering tools we have seen so far. Also the press and analysts are upping their antes to find out what is coming next:

From: []
Sent: Thursday, August 11, 2005 1:49 PM
To: Robin.Good[at]
Subject: Press Query: Bob Berkman, Information Advisor

Hello Robin,

greetings from lovely Prince Edward Island Canada, which has become my summer home away from home over the last few years.

I hope all is well with you. You'll probably remember that I interviewed you for my September 2004 Knowledge Management supplement on the RSS Newsmastering concept.

Photo credit: Joăo Estęvăo A. de Freitas

I'm doing an article for this September's supplement of the Information Advisor specifically on products that are designed to be RSS solutions for the Enterprise, and which, in a sense, are an attempt to create an IT product out of your newsmastering concept.

I'll be discussing some of the new releases including NewsGator's new RSS for the Enterprise product, KnowNow, and also touch on Nooked and MoreOver.

I'd be very interested in getting your comment, for publication, on what value you see in this type of product.

My initial thinking is that perhaps they are overkill, and simply IT companies creating a product because they can and see a market opportunity.

I wonder, based on our conversation last year, whether much of what could be done to create RSS for the Enterprise be performed without large expensive systems. Perhaps we're getting the old knowledge management, centralized, vendor solutions again--which did not turn out that well...

Would be grateful to get a few of your comments on this, as well as anything else you would like to say about RSS Enterprise solutions, particularly from the perspective of knowledge management (e.g. personal knowledge management) and the corporate librarian and his/her role...

Thanks--unfortunately, due to too much time at PEI's beautiful beaches, I'm on a crazy deadline, and would need to hear back from you today or tomorrow (Friday) at the latest.

Thanks Robin!

Bob Berkman, editor
The Information Advisor

Dear Robert,

great to hear from you and thank you for your very kind and interesting questions.

Aside from suggesting to get a look at HitSyndicaat, which is another very interesting Enterprise Syndication Server that fits your article interest and which presents its own unique set of traits, here are my humble comments on your questions:

a) The value of these new products is that they do attempt to take present, free, grassroots and very imperfect solutions to a new, reliable, performing level. This per se is a good and necessary step to get where we want to be.

The need to program the effective integration of performing database components, advanced filtering features, the integration of tracking and monitoring facilities along with ability to output content in a variety of formats and distribution "compilations" does indeed create many fascinating business opportunities to the many companies who understand, manage and mentally operate within the new content distribution paradigm dictated by RSS leveling standard and extremely flexible distribution mechanism.

I do believe that the future providers of such solutions will enjoy tremendous business opportunities coming from multiple converging directions (content providers, news and information agencies, independent publishers, enterprise users, and more), and that the initial discriminating criteria will rest on features integration and ease of use.

b) The major obstacles these companies face are the consequence of their lack of competence and qualified resources dedicated to the design of qualitative superior interfaces. By themselves these can make or break the effective market value and "sellability" of these new tools to prospective customers, large and small. Due to the strong design influence exerted by engineers and programmers on the first generation of these RSS management and editing tools, usability, ergonomics and interface design issues have largely suffered. As users and UI resources will be increasingly utilized to remodel these technologies to the facilitating and supportive role they need to perform, RSS enterprise tools will rapidly gain greater acceptance and appreciation.

c) The control, deployment and management of these technologies is still generally under the total dominion of IT departments, who are the only ones who can install and deploy them to user specifications. Once simpler and easier to adopt tools become available, allowing individual users to directly test and learn their tremendous benefits, organizations will start to adopt these tools in a more open fashion. Once again it will be thanks to the individuals, exercising a bottom-up pressure on existing methodologies and policies, from both outside and within the larger organizations, that will spring a rapid and wide adoption of these new tools.

d) There is indeed no need to build complex, difficult to install and hard to use tools to do this. The more so as the ideal users are indeed non-technical people by education, but humanist, reporters, analysts, information librarians and research experts. What the enterprise needs is scalability, reliability, security and easy maintenance. But to provide these there is no need to insist in providing solutions that are like the knowledge management systems we have been seeing used within large organizations until now.

e) It is therefore true as you say that we may be getting "the old knowledge management, centralized, vendor solutions again--which did not turn out that well..." but only in the sense that these tools remain highly unfriendly to the average non-technical user, such as a marketing intelligence specialist, a business analyst, an information librarian or a news investigator.

Until we can overcome these issues of usability by feeding back to these companies what we really expect to have when we talk about "newsmastering", advanced feed syndication or remixing we may remain quite disappointed with the tools offered and their cost.

f) All of the right ideas are already out there, and there is only need to have enough vision and competence to bring them all together in a solid and integrated solution, that can scale, be highly customizable and tremendously intuitive for the end user to work with.

g) It may be indeed that some of the smaller and lesser known companies may in fact soon come up with something much closer to what you and I are expecting than some of the bigger companies you have been following so far.

It's hard to say.

For one BlogBridge has been making tremendous progress in this direction and I strongly advise you to give a good personal look at this free tool and in particular at their very effective "SmartFeed" creation tool.

This is the very first time I see something getting quite close to the full original newsmastering without loosing itself in unnecessary technical acrobatics. BlogBridge is a model to look after when the goal is one of designing a tool that generates effective niche, thematic newsfeeds out of a larger database of RSS-based content. There is still much to go for BlogBridge, and as of now the tool doesn't even have the ability to output to RSS. But the components needed to make this tool shine are all already in place. So, also for BlogBridge it is only a matter of time.

Other innovative newsmastering tools are being tested and refined at this very time, but none is as of now, closer than BlogBridge to offering a true, integrated, reliable and easy-to-use tool to allow effective newsmastering work.

Some are too limited and offer only a taste of what is really needed to perform effective filtering and remixing of RSS content.

Some are just a bit too technical, as those designing them have suddenly forgotten that users are not all IT engineers.

Others have still too many bugs and interface issues to be even considered future competitive candidates.

With certainty I can only tell you that we WILL see some very fascinating new RSS syndication tools being launched in the coming months.

Whether they will fully match some of our newsmastering dreams is still a bit early to say, though I would feel quite confident in saying that at least a few will do so in the next 3 to 6 months.

N.B.: Oh, by the way, keep an eye also on Myst Technologies which claims to be the pioneer in this area and who serves already many enterprise customers. In your place I would drop them a few questions; That Bill, Andy and Peter behind the Myst logo have always some pretty intelligent and qualified answers I wouldn't want to miss out on.

All the best,

Robin Good

Readers' Comments    
2005-12-22 07:13:44

Mark Wilson

Newsmastering and aggregation is a big topic, it will evolve quickly. Stand alone news readers are fine for the individual, but for corporate research they just don't cut the mustard. So we looked into it and built reBlogger - a corporate website based aggregator. It publishes, filters, groups and tracks. You should check it out.

2005-11-02 05:43:22

Dan McTaggart

News Reader? Who needs a newsreader? Everything automatically updating on a normal web page so all you need is your normal web browser.

Also laser targeted newswire search (it's a bit slow on my home computer, but it works :)

Oh and Robin, I apologize for not keeping my appointment with you. I appreciated your assistance.


2005-08-23 10:54:15


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2005-08-18 18:25:39

Bill Smith

Hi Robin

The RSS space is heating up - your response is interesting and detailed.

my question is - you didn't cover the vendors that Bob Berkman mentioned - Newsgator, KnowNow, Moreover and Nooked ? any specific reason.

You have mentioned other vendors - and to be honest i have never heard of them, whilst the vendors listed by Bob are the market leaders in this evolving space




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