Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Real Simple Syndication (Yes, that's really what RSS stands for) is a way to get updates on blogs. At least that's the traditional use. You use a service like Bloglines to track RSS streams, or you use a standalone reader or a reader built into your browswer (Sage for Firefox, for instance), subscribe to the RSS feeds that interest you, and life is good.

By using an RSS stream you just push a button and all the blogs you are subscribed to are checked for updates. Within a few minutes you know exactly where the latest news is to be found.

But wait, there's more!

This article at Tahiti Views shows an intriguing use of RSS, a subscription to a search. When new items appear, you can find out automatically. The author speaks of some other intriguing ideas like updates to books. But to my mind updates to books should be automated behind the scenes. A digital book (the next big thing) should have the latest version of every one of your technical books downloaded silently in the background to the reader (like the Amazon Kindle).

Rather than make life quite that simple, it would be a very good idea to allow people to leave their books without updates if they like, and also to have an update history available at least in some central source so one can tell what changes have been made to a particular text and when. Otherwise when you're explaining to the boss why you did XY and Z to your RDBMS based on the technical suggestions in the digital book: Database Risk Factors, How to Live on the Edge, you can say: 'See, I told you the book said to delete all the redo. It was in the text up to last Monday'. It's going to be a complex, blame-filled future by the look of it.

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