Share your OPML

May 16, 2006

I have spoken a bit about RSS in the past and this topic runs along those lines.  If you get into RSS feeds and readers you may also get into sharing your feeds with others.  You could liken this to the ability to sharing links (a la del.icio.us).  The site (which was started by the creator of RSS – Dave Winer) is
http://share.opml.org/ a little light on the feature list and quite frankly I can not see this site growing really large but it is interesting anyways.

The basic idea is that you would export your RSS readers list of feeds using a technology specification called OPML Outline Processor Markup Language.  Most readers will export the list in that format so this process is pretty painless.  OPML in short is an XML file with a particular layout.  Once you create an account and upload your OPML file you get some links on the right side of the page.  The two nicest features that I can see are the “Subscriptions Like Mine” and the “Top 100 Feeds” links.  These are indexes, the first based on match ups from your list and the second being the most popular RSS feeds found in everyone’s list.  Unfortunately, the “Subscriptions like mine” link does not appear to work.  It may be that I had just signed up and the tools on the site had not caught up with my post.

What I think is interesting about this site is that it is a litmus test of sorts.  If you look at the top 100 you will notice that besides a few feeds like CNET News.com and Bloglines, these feeds are all technical feeds.  If you remember before we talked about the masses here and while there has been some debate as to what will drive RSS to the masses, a site like this will at least let us know when that shift will be made.

What I would imagine will happen is that the distribution to the masses will happen automatically.  What I mean is that people will be using RSS without really knowing it.  Much like HTML.  When the web hit the masses back in the mid 1990’s people had no idea what HTML was.  They understood the power of HTML but did not know that they were using it.  I could see that same process happening with RSS.  More importantly, for this technology to truly meet the masses, it has to happen.  People don’t care about the architecture, they care about the functionality.

So what would that look like?  Is Firefox’s definition of “Live Bookmarks” the answer?  They don’t call it RSS, the call it “Live Bookmarks”.  So what people may understand is that they can create a bunch of Live Bookmarks which show “snippets” of content from their favorite sites directly within their browsers without having to go the page.  The browser would be using RSS behind the scenes without the user  ever knowing this.

A natural extension to this would be the ability to “share” my Live Bookmarks.  This extension would behind the scenes be enabled using OPML.  The browser could also be enabled to show “recommended” Live Bookmarks based on the cross-reference of your feeds against others.

So you may know it is hitting the masses when you see feeds in here from WWTDD.com.

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