RSS and Email. Over on the K-Logs mailing list, John Robb, Julian Bond and others are discussing email being routed to RSS feeds. John suggests Yahoogroups, for instance, should do this. But I think there's an even more valuable service: feeding RSS into email. I've written about this before (somewhere--just can't find it--guess I need KM!), but here's the idea. As Jon Udell eloquently suggested earlier this year, "cyberspace really only guarantees two ubiqutous resources: email and the readable Web. For the time being, any viable collaborative solution has to make the most out of these available resources." This doesn't mean that we can't, as Julian suggests, use native OS user interfaces, but they must be in addition to email, the browser or both.
The browser is our best tool for--uh--browsing, but what about subscriptions (e.g., RSS) that are essentially a push model? If you scan RSS feeds once an hour, how do you know when there's something new? Do you have to look at the clock, notice that it's five minutes past the hour, then direct your browser to your aggregator? Wouldn't it be much more convenient if the RSS feeds to which you subscribed were delivered immediately (as soon as scanned) to your email inbox? This is where you recieve other pushed content such as email and mailing list content, so why not weblogs? Subscription is already an improvement over polling web pages, but getting information pushed directly to your inbox is even better. Trust me...I've been using such a system for about two months now, and the only time I ever interact with my weblog software (Radio) is when I need to post something from scratch. Other than that, Radio is always running in the background, scanning and aggregating my feeds, but I never see it.
"Ah!," but you say, "Suppose I'm reading something in my inbox and I want to blog it? Then I have to copy and paste it. What a pain!" That's the beauty of this idea. Take a look at this screenshot. If you're familiar with Radio, this will look very similar to the web page you use to read your feeds. but wait...this isn't Radio, this is Outlook. I'm receiving all those feeds right there in my inbox. But wait, there's more! Notice the little "Blog" buttons, if you click on one (not in the screenshot, silly), you'll find that you are instantly transported to Radio's data entry page, and that the item you've selected has already pre-populated all of the fields, ready for the addition of your words of wisdom.
No, this isn't something that's commercially available. I threw together an RSS-to-HTML email tool using Radio and used Jeremy Bowers' customBlogPost tool to process the blogging request that comes back to Radio. I find it to be by far the easiest way to deal with the 75 or so weblogs to which I subscribe. As a side benefit, all of these messages are archived in a Weblogs folder in Outlook, where they can be searched within the same context as mailing lists and other messages I save.
Posted Friday, December 07, 2001 1:24:25 PM