More Applications For Feeds

Feeds are an important aspect of my daily reading. I cannot cope up with the ever increasing list of sites I am reading without them. So much so, that I have started assuming that I will find feeds on all sites. They are being actively used in different scenarios like in case of Flickr or coComments.

With the increasing popularity of feeds, are they becoming viable for more and more applications? I did some reading and found some ideas floating on the Net. Sumankumar wonders about using RSS for documentation. The CEO Bloggers’ Club has Ten Ideas for Corporate RSS Feeds. Here is a list of situations where I could use feeds.


The calendar sharing and subscription is not very convenient today. Is it possible that calendars start sharing by using feeds? A good thing about this would be that while these feeds could be read by specific feed-ready calendar applications, others would be able to read them through normal aggregators or feed readers.

This can probably be extended to scheduled events. I have seen BarCamp provide a RSS for all the BarCamps. If this could be applied everywhere for all the events that are planned, it would be easier to keep a track.

What Others Read

I have mentioned this before, and with Share Your OPML this has come closer. But ideally I would like to subscribe to others’ blogrolls, especially people who have similar interests. That way I can increase the probability of discovering new sources.

Product Feeds

A lot of times I wait for a specific book and I would love to get an intimation from the bookstore that the book is available. The bookstore can simply create a book feed to which people like me can subscribe and keep a watch. I have seen some third party websites talking about Amazon feeds, but I haven’t seen anything on its own website. Amazon feeds for a specific category of books will be great! Similarly eBay or Craigslist or Deals2Buy can provide feeds for generic or specific content. I visit these sites when I have something specific in mind and I would love to get a feed update from them.

One more example that comes to mind is Mozilla could add feeds for addons on their products, e.g., Firefox addons.

In all these applications, if the feed is customizable by the user, like in case of WordPress, it offers maximum value.

To think of it, feeds can be applied wherever there is any content that can be subscribed to by users, especially for which users wait for. On the other hand it is also possible that feeds can be replaced by other utilities like email, newsletters and other subscriptions. However, the basic advantage of feeds is that they watch for me. In addition to this, the feed formats are XML based, which enables separation of content and the format. Once received, the application on the other end can probably transform this content to some other format and show it to the user, e.g., if calendars provide feeds, the feed items could be transformed into appointments or events or anniversaries.

These are my top-of-the-head thoughts. I am really interested in knowing your ideas on feeds. Feel free to put them in the comments here.

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Copyright Abhijit Nadgouda.

Posted in feeds. 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “More Applications For Feeds”

  1. Shanta Rohse Says:

    An interesting article, Abhijit (one of many, I might add). I’ve been noting how my use of RSS has changed over the last 2 years or so. In the beginning I used feeds as a way to manage my blog reading (because blogs were the primary feed providers) and my reading list expanded almost exponentially as blogging became more popular. I don’t really use feeds as a way read anymore. Rather I try to use them as a way to limit what I read by scanning headlines or as a passive way of being notified of changes. So I subscribe to a weather feed, my travel plans feed, my favourite magazines, journals and authors (only to notified of their next issue). One technique I would be interested in trying is pooling the OPMLs of my favourite authors, and then searching rather than scanning the whole unruly mess for keywords. It’s so easy to be overwhelmed and distracted by volumes of reading when you discover feeds and aggregators; now I am interested in finding ways to read less (but better).

  2. Abhijit Nadgouda Says:

    Hi Shanta,

    So true, sometimes the sheer number of feeds can make you feel lost. Very interesting, searching through the feeds will save some time.

    Like you I too use feeds for passive notification sometimes, I think update notification is one of the big advantages of feeds.

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