RSS Feed/vs. Live Bookmarks

May 23, 2006

The ability to bookmark pages has been around since Netscape 1.0 (it may have been available in Mosaic but I can not remember that far back and at the time the concept of the web was so new to me that I may not have understood what a bookmark was). Bookmarks collectively can be viewed as a list of links to sites or pages that a user frequents. For me I link to my banking site, NBA.com, CNN.com, OnTheSnow.com Ski Report, technology help articles that I have found helpful. What made these bookmarks unsuccessful were two things
1.) If a bookmark went bad (i.e. the page was deleted or moved) you were screwed
2.) It gave you no information about the content that was contained on the page so if it changed you were screwed
Along came RSS and "Live Bookmarks" or a "Livemark"

With the advent of RSS the world of bookmarks has begun to change. Imagine some system which allows your bookmarks to be updated automatically. For instance, the page may be moved or content may change. How would you know and why would you ever want to keep up with this all. So here is the scenario:

Problem: I spend a ton of time scouring the web looking for the perfect link which gives me up to the minute updates of all my favorite local (and not so local) ski resorts. After a month of using the link the site changes the URL. Although one would think that this would be a ridiculous thing for a site to do, you all know it happens. So I am now tasked with the job of re-finding that link. Arrrgggh.

Solution: I spend a ton of time scouring the web looking for the perfect link which gives me up to the minute updates …. (you get the picture) … and instead of linking to that page I link to that sites published RSS feed. The RSS Feed (which I add to my page as a Livemark) contains not only the link for the slopes but is also updated with constants deals on great getaways this weekend to my favorite resort. In addition, if the site decides that it needs to restructure the pages a bit, it simply updates its RSS feed and I lose no time the next time a foot of snow dumps in my region.

Livemarks which up until now have been relegated to consuming RSS content for the purpose of reading articles posted to your favorite news site hold the power to make the solution described above a thing of the norm. A Livemark can help solve the "stale-ness" created with existing bookmarks. My recommendation – developers: create more Livemarks – users: consume more Livemarks – and for everyone to talk more about it.

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