Sharing that OPML

I am playing around with Dave Winer’s OPML sharing platform and loving it. You can see my OPML file listed or more interestingly you can see other people who have subscriptions like mine (you have to log in to see the match vs. mine, would like an option for this to be public). Its great for feed discovery since people have a reason to use real names, and others can discover them (if you have tried finding friends on Del.icio.us you will know why this matters).

Finding or doing something like this has been a personal lazy web project for a while. For a while I would ask people I knew to share OPML’s with me. I tried to manage each persons OPML in a separate folder. Newsgators and Netnewswire did a marginal job of making this data accessible. The folders were present but there was no automatic updating of the OPML (so they were locked in a point in time), there was no easy way to compare my RSS feeds to my friends and there was no attention navigation option (like NetNewsWire has started offering) to give me a sense of whats important to the people whose feeds I am reading (finally, maybe all the attention chatter can be put to use for end users). I ended up having to do a lot of pruning and integration myself, getting rid of the folders, taking other OPML files and grabbing a handful of interesting feeds and leaving it at that.

Winer’s OPML sharing platform open the world up for much richer and more interesting options. Sharing is easy, as is navigation. Its fun to browse through users feeds. I find it a lot more compelling than a lot of the feed search engines out there. Matching the data with identity is the difference. Also interesting to see how little mainstream data is present in the OPML files. Dave’s own list (user ID#3) is one of the few exceptions — I suspect that given all the work he has done re: RSS he is over indexed on tracking media sites for RSS feeds.

Very interested to see how this evolves. This feels to me just like Del.icio.us did at the start. All of the gentle ways that Josh introduced happenstance into navigating tags I hope Dave will offer to navigate feeds. And I want to be able to match this with my reader so I can navigate not only the meta data but the actual articles. Likewise I wish I could plug my podcast feed list into this (the one that is trapped, happily so, but still trapped, in iTunes). And I hope that search navigation options really open up. I hope people will be able to build off this, would be wonderful if it became a platform. There are less than 2500 people sharing files as of now, going to be fascinating to see how it evolves as the dataset grows. OPML is another building block for wiring the flow of lateral data on the web. Finding ways to share and mix OPML files is part of the next stage of evolution of RSS.

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