The Inner Nature of RSS

I think that the inner nature of RSS is that it is like email except:

  • Pull not Push
  • Anonymous Broadcast not Targeted Narrowcast
  • Maintains History (most recent facets of a permanent store)

So it perturbs me to see the Enterprise RSS weblog tout several RSS ideas that strike me as better suited for email. If a feed is targeted for an individual, then the only advantage that RSS has over email is that it is pull not push. And I submit that is not a compelling advantage - especially within the enterprise.

Enterprise RSS is better suited for feeds that are of interest to groups not individuals. Where the ease of subscription reduces the overhead associated with people who want to be cc’ed on everything. And where the history implicit within an RSS feed becomes a tool to bring newcomers up to speed.

Instead of a Lead Generation feed targeted at an individual, how about a Sales Status feed for the team. Have sales discuss what is and isn’t working at accounts. And have marketing monitor, correct, and reinforce marketing messages.

Or how about an system deployment feed where professional services covers how customers are using the system, what they’re integrating to and how they’re doing the integration. Let sales and marketing listen in on what the product is doing in the real world. And let product marketing hear from the front lines.

Instead of a report/data mining feed for an individual, how about a report/data mining feed for an expert where others are allowed to eavesdrop. Institutionalize a mentality where the team learns from the best.

RSS is too often viewed as an alternative to email. That under estimates the worth of email and discounts the relationship of RSS to a permanent store. RSS is not just the most current message. It’s also a pointer back to a historical store of knowledge. It’s much easier to transfer knowledge by reviewing a weblog than by forwarding email.

Consider scenarios where you want periodic monitoring from one group and close interaction from another (forest - trees). In some of the situations that I listed above, you might not want marketing involved day to day. But a once or twice a month review would be valuable.