Somebody Please Make RSS the New Business Standard! (Pretty Please!)

*Much respect to Alex Pedregon who put this idea in my head in the first place!

Before I get into my rant, let me quote somebody (a whole lot) smarter than me – Herbert Simon (an American researcher in the fields of cognitive psychology, computer science, public administration, economic sociology, and philosophy.)


“…in an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it”

This had me saying to myself, “Self, what is this guy talking about?”

To which I replied, “Stop talking to yourself and think about it” and so I did.

WHO HAS TIME FOR THIS? There is only so much time in a day and only so much I can achieve on any given day; this is because I have so many things competiting for my attention. I have my 9 to 5, my family, hobbies, buddies, must-see tv and whatever else that manages to pop onto my radar. What gets accomplished often does not match my best intentions, but what attracts my attention the most and I have to tell you – my attention span is dwindling with each day. Take blogs for example, I love ‘em and you should too because they are a great source of information and connecting with people. According to Technorati’s “State of the blogosphere,” a new blog is created every second. If you think that is intimidating, don’t… Blogs are part of “pull’ technology, but more on that in a moment. Instead be nervous about the heart of your business communications – your email. Did you know that 0.37% of e-mails sent in May 2006 contained viruses? How about this one… 23.1% of spam is relayed in the US. Furthermore, 60% of e-mail sent daily is spam and 63% of US Internet users share some content via e-mail at least once a week. So all that to say, email is neccessary, but not 100% secure. (Source: Kenradio IQ report) However, this is not my only point.

EMAIL IS A NECCESSARY… EVIL? Email is a push technology, which means somebody (somewhere) is pushing information at me. Maybe its work-related, maybe its a funny video or maybe sweet hugs and kisses from my beautiful wife; regardless of the content, its coming at me at all times of the day. Unless I have a good spam blocker running, I get much more content (unwanted content) than this. The more I work (and play) online, the more I gain an appreciation for “email sanctity.” Email sanctity is when I receive emails and only those emails that I want to receive and only from select senders. Presently, this is a pipe dream as I (practically) swim in emails all day and what’s worse, I feel as if I am managing a competitve sport. Hmmm… I suppose on some level I am. Will I see every email I am sent? No, thanks to filters and spam blocking software, yet this technology is not always accurate. There have been times where I have missed out on important engagements because my spam blockers had a disdain for Evite. (Sigh…) Will I read every email? No, I will not, as some emails I will delete without rhyme or reason other than my suspicion that it is a phishing scheme of some sort, I don’t recognize the name of the sender or the headline of the email was not intriguing enough to warrant my investigation. (So if I did not resond to your email, try your luck again?)

What I used to like about email was that I would use it as a database of knowledge. Simply download MSN Desktop Search (Highly recommended!) and with a few keyword searches, I would find the data that I was looking for. The problem with this method is I can not always recollect the right keyword or phrase I want to find and if I search by the author of the emails, its not much better; especially if I have received tons of emails from them in the past. So to reiterate, the “push” technology of email – bad. Why? I don’t get all of my email. I don’t read all the email I do get. Plus, there is a whole lot of spam out there. Fortunately, I have a better idea – RSS. In case you have that “deer in the headlights” look going on, let me give you a crash course. RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication.” In a nutshell, its a way to easily distribute a list of headlines, update notices and sometimes content to a wide number of people. What makes RSS cool is that it enables a user to monitor website content (content on several websites actually) changes in a well organized and concise manner. All that is needed is a RSS aggregator, which is (more or less) a browser for RSS content.  PLEASE MAKE RSS THE NEW BUSINESS STANDARD!

RSS is perfect for internal communications as it controls attention, distills time and improves efficiency. Let me prove it to you.

1. Imagine that every employee has a blog behind your company’s firewall. An employee begins a discussion on his blog about a particular topic. Co-workers and/or management read the topic in a RSS aggregator and leave comments on that employee’s blog. In this way, there is a (much) easier way to track the origin and progression of the topic for future reflection. Additionally, it is a means to further collaboration as all responding to the topic have centralized their opinions and contributions. Reviewing the history of your work day or project is no longer sifting through tons of email, but rather locating the pertinent headline in your RSS aggregator and reviewing the thread of comments.

2. Imagine that every manager has an internal blog and that each manager relates their strategic vision to all employees on one blog and a secondary blog for relating tactical endeavors to his/her direct reports. Imagine that these blogs (or all internal blogs for that matter) are secure in that subscribers must be approved by the blog owners. This serves to insure that the communication betwen the parties is relevant to both parties and as such, worthy of the attention.

3. Imagine having internal depositories of confidential information which are updated infrequently, important, but often overlooked by those workers who have a use for the information. What if this information was coded in RSS and those concerned would stay in the loop when it comes to new information being posted there?

4. Imagine external data also being pulled to your RSS aggregator reporting on your industry and competitors. Perhaps even a system that studies your RSS subscriptions and makes recommendations on additional RSS feeds to subscribe to?

5. Finally, imagine what you could learn from the statistical data amassed from these internal (and external) RSS feeds. Who is monitoring the competiton the closest? Who is monitoring the vision statements of the management? Who is actively engaged in a certain project? How much do they contribute over time? When is collaboration at its zenith? What messages are read most often and why?


Am I suggesting the end of email? No… It is too far integrated into business and society to ever become extinct. What I am suggesting is that email take a back seat to RSS and perhaps even a third seat back behind Instant Messaging, SMS and the telephone. Howzabout this for a protocol on communication?

  • RSS – Daily collaboration on projects and internal communications.
  • Instant Messaging – Quick questions that are off topic to what is being discussed on an internal blog.
  • SMS – Quick questions when you are out of the office (or bored in a meeting – smile.
  • Telephone – External communications and confidential exchanges
  • Email – External communications, documents


Is it reality now? No… Can it become reality? I suppose that depends on the willingness of your enterprise to accept change, bolster collaboration and improve productivity. Once that happens, someone else will see you doing it and want to jump on the bandwagon and so on and so on and so on. When that happens, RSS will take (what I hope to be) its rightful place – the defacto standard for internal communication and collaboration.

Keeping my fingers crossed!

This Bullhorn Blog post was written by Jim Stroud; Searchologist, Blogger, Trainer, and Nice Guy – 

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