Robert Scoble has some great advice to anyone considering delivering partial versus full feeds. Robert and I hate partial text feeds. Lots of folks think it helps click through if you offer a partial feed. Feedburner suggests they are wrong. Robert explains why partial feeds are a bad idea even if there was a a difference in click through:
The thing that partial texters are forgetting is that the other 900 people will find out about you from an influencer. Someone who will tell them. So, your traffic growth will be far slower if you only offer partial text feeds. Many of my friends who are journalists or bloggers just won’t deal with partial text feeds anymore. You certainly see that I link to mostly full text feeds on my link blog.
John Battelle realized this after he polled his readership about this issue: “From the results of my very unscientific poll, I’d clearly be alienating at least a very vocal minority.”
Niall Kennedy has an interesting post on his weblog titled, “Authenticated and private feeds” that reminded me of our early experience with SocialMail. When we launched SocialMail we had a few people who used the platform to publish their personal email via RSS. One prominent venture capital firm made this mistake and very quickly they began to see their emails appear in Technorati. Very quickly they learned what Niall commented about today:
Some syndication feeds are not meant to be displayed for the world to see. Our everyday lives contain private and confidential data we wouldn’t want anyone else to see, and especially not search. There are a few options for trying to keep things private in your feed aggregator but the implementations require proper coding and privacy from all implementors. Examples of private feeds intended for 1:1 communication include bank balances, e-mail notifications, project status, and the latest bids on that big contract. Data in the wrong hands could be dangerous, and many companies will stay away from the feed syndication space until they feel their users’ personal data is secure.
Niall’s post does a great job of summing up the various types of RSS security including: “Security through obscurity”, “Permission-based exclusion” and “HTTP Authentication”. His point is that adoption of RSS (feeds in general) could be significantly enhanced if large publishers knew their client’s data was private and secure. He suggests further “cooperation and collaboration” of security formats to get us past the current fears. Charlie Wood, our buddy from Austin, commented on Niall’s post that his service, Spanning Salesforce, helps add secure feeds to Salesforce.com (http authentication and ssl). He notes:
The problem I’ve run into is support on the client side. As you point out, most of the hosted readers (with the notable exception of NewsGator Online) don’t support secure feeds. Disappointingly, neither does the Windows RSS Platform. (It supports NTLM/Kerberos, but not Basic HTTP Auth. Microsoft says such support was planned, but was the victim of time constraints. Uh, ok.)
I wrote about Upcoming a while back in a post titled, “My Favorite Social Tools: Upcoming” and I am pleased to announce that Upcoming is getting better. Yahoo has announced they have added a number of new features including:
- Undiscovered Events: now Yahoo! Local events are automatically included in metros in an effort to kick-start slow moving metros like Dallas.
- Event Filters: making RSS or iCal feeds better.
- Flickr Photos for Events: add your upcoming tag for an event to a flickr photo and Flickr will auto add a link back to the Upcoming page and vice versa.
- Buddy Icons: I could care less, but if you are excited about using your Flickr buddy icon on Upcoming – woot! you are going to be happy.
- New Events Pages
- New User Experience
Alexander & I have been working a lot lately on all the Big in Japan tools. Lots of changes to PodServe, revamping FrankenFeed in Rails and with the new user experience tweaks we’ve been doing to all the tools, and launching the remaining tools. (Note to self: doing ten apps at once is not a good idea.) We posted up SocialMail for a bit of feedback, and we’re getting it.
What’s SocialMail? It’s a tool that lets you get any email as an RSS feed. Now, for non-geeks, that means you don’t have to keep piling on your Inbox just to stay connected with people. For me, and perhaps for many of you, email is just not as effective anymore. If I’m out for half a day, my email piles up so much that I’m not as effective in paying attention to things. I’m managing most of my projects through various Basecamps, and getting feed updates on new actions and such.
You can use SocialMail to:
- Forward any email to an RSS feed, tracking it in your newsreader or republishing to a blog. For instance, it might be handy to have all support@ emails republished to an internal blog where your team has better access to them.
- Create non-managed email discussion lists. Want to have a quick talk about Bay Area Hiking? Create BayHikes@biggu.com and let everyone interested subscribe to that feed. They don’t have to give you an email address, nor do they have to unsub and manage their participation when they tire of the conversation. They simply unsub from the feed. Then, again, you can republish the information to a blog, etc., making it more searchable, indexable, easier to interact with than typical email.
- Share common addresses. Instead of having one person responsible for sales@ or support@, create a SocialMail feed and let everyone in the company have access to these public emails.
I’m sure our users will come up with many more things, but we’ve started the ball rolling. Read Alexander’s write-up or check out what TechMeme is tracking on this new tool.
We will be shifting to the new feed icon standard shortly, when are you going to switch?
Alex asked me to reblog his post on PodServer here. So here goes:
This afternoon we had a Big in Japan meeting and the guys presented several new features, a couple of which were interesting enough to share. So I have explained PodServer here. So if you need to catch up do so. For the rest of you, here goes:
Feature One: PodServer makes it easy to create, store and share your podcast by simply uploading an mp3. Each time you create a new ‘show’ you upload it to your podcast and it becomes available to anyone subscribed to your feed. The relationship is simple – 1 person per podcast. What if the relationship model could be broken wide open? That is exactly what the Big in Japan guys have done.
Imagine that you are a member of the Book of the Month Club. Now you and the rest of the club can get together once a month to review your thoughts of the book, but what if you could time-shift the meeting? Each of you could record your thoughts in an mp3 and upload it to the Book of the Month Club Podcast (i.e. anyone in the club could upload their mp3) and the podcast would be a combination of all of your thoughts. This could work for public debate on topics (maybe not as well), but for limited groups it might be interesting. Thoughts?
Feature Two: FrankenFeed for podcasts. Imagine that you are a fan of three different VC podcasts and you want to share them with your friends. You could send all three RSS feeds (in their long URL glory) to your friends or you could use FrankenFeed to combine them into a single VC Podcast Feed. As you found new VC podcasts you want your friends to listen to you could simply add them to the original VC Podcast Feed without bothering your friends – they would just get the new content in the original feed. Neat, huh?
PodServer is written with Ruby on Rails and features touches of Ajax. Today it is deliverying ‘alpha’ podcasts and should be launched (in beta) as part of the Big in Japan toolbox next month.
Guys like Fred at WeBreakStuff are starting to realize that most of us are not using web content in its original or intended form. Instead we are using news readers like NetNewsWire to pull content from web sites and deliver it in text form to our readers. Do you offer RSS/Atom feeds? How do you feel about the loss of control feeds represent?
One of the first things we do with a new client is help them set up an RSS reader and fill it with relevant reads. What a great moment it is when the lightbulb appears overhead and they realize they can make their favorite Web pages come to them. (Take their info to go, as it were.) Steve Rubel offers up a list of ten RSS hacks (RSS = Really Simple Syndication). A few of his tips:
Build Feeds for Your Favorite Writers Wouldn’t it be great to have a feed for your favorite columnist or journalist? Some sites, like ESPN, already offer these. But most don’t. Here’s a trick. Search for their byline and/or their column title on Yahoo! News and then subscribe to the search as a feed. For example, here’s a Yahoo! News search for Dr. Mac – Bob Levitus with the Houston Chronicle. The search has a link to this feed. Now anytime there’s a new column from Dr. Mac, they come direct to me via RSS. Here’s another feed I built to track Ed Baig’s columns. The trick is setting up the right search. (Hint – this hack works nicely for sites that don’t have feeds)
Find Cool Stuff with a del.icio.us Inbox Feed One of the most powerful tools I use to find stuff to blog about is my del.icio.us inbox. This tracks all bookmarks people are adding to the community under certain tags that I have flagged. The nice part is, I don’t have to continually hit the site to scan these. My inbox has an RSS feed. (Bonus tip – use del.icio.us to build yourself a custom vidcast feed)
Find New Desktop Wallpaper with Flickr I like to change my desktop wallpaper as often as I eat. So I used to subscribe to Webshots Premium. No mas. Thomas Hawk posts new original images every day in Flickr that are just incredible. I subscribe to his feed and download ones I like.
There is a tight little Web 2.0 bombsquad all squatting together out in Atherton, CA this week: the TechCrunch boys, Frederico Oliveira and Richard MacManus. They’ve decided to gather their sites under one offering — the Web 2.0 working group. TechCrunch focuses on product launches and new startups, Fred’s site Webreakstuff on design & usability, and Richard’s Read/Write Web is a must read site for trends and analysis.
You can get all those sites in one convenient master feed here.
We mashed it up with our new pre-beta project, FrankenFeed, then tidied up the URL with elfURL. We encourage you to follow these guys.
Alex Muse ditched his newsletter yesterday. He had built 11,000 contacts in his newsletter database, and told them all yesterday that the best way to get information his current projects is by reading his blog or subscribing to his feed. It’s certainly more efficient. Much more of an nuanced conversation. More welcomed by the folks who opt in by reading his blog or adding the feed to their newsreader. He doesn’t need 11,000 sometime contacts who get email. He needs like 50 engaged comrades who are as excited about (and I’m going to say it) Web 2.0 apps and opportunities as he is.
Maybe you should ditch your email newsletter and use blogs and feeds as a better way to get your ideas out there. Plus, you can always give people the option to get your rss feed as an email if they’d like.
Update: see, the thing is, unsolicited email seems to really aggravate folks. Witness this sort of bizarro post/comment/email two-step between Alex & Light Reading editor Phil Harvey.