I’ve been working for some time to raise awareness of Web 2.0 in the organisation for which I work. It’s been a long journey and I’ve blogged about the early stages of this process here. One of the keys requirements is to introduce a feed reader. Conventional Wisdom is that without one, adoption of Web 2.0 technologies is far less likely to succeed.
My approach has been to adopt RSS Bandit. It’s a tatical solution because in 18 months time we’ll be looking to roll out Vista and the whole picture will have changed. That will be the time to make a long term decision that can justify some spend. Well, this approach has now been ratified by our Global IT folk, so we will be looking to roll it out in the UK real soon now.
Following on from my thinking on RSS Enabling the Enterprise, I have been pondering on how much CIOs really want this technology. This article has a good discussion and throws some water on the fire.
Enterprise Web 2.0 » Why CEOs Are Afraid of Social Media
It’s merely one more example of why the Enterprise 2.0 revolution is not about technology, it’s about who gets to control the flow and pace of inside information.
I’ve had another look at Urchin and it doesn’t look like it will do the business for me. It’s kind of what I have in mind, but, learning curve aside, it doesn’t look like it’s trying to achieve the same thing – sorry if I’ve misunderstood.
I’ve had a look through the data model of Urchin and started to plan one myself. I particularly want the feature that will roll several feeds into one. As I thought about interfaces/APIs I wondered about the Common Feed Store if IE7 and Vista. Would it be possible to copy that API, or better to utilise that store? This is the direction I’ll be going in for now, unless something comes up. One aspect I don’t see in the Feed Store is security, so I’ll have to plan to layer that on top.
What I like about it is that the Feed Store will handle all the scheduling of updates to feeds. It has a folder structure that could facilitate the mashup of feeds. In order to support the idea of plugins to gather feeds from other sources – e.g. screen scrapes of HTML, a database or some other XML – I will create feeds to localhost/htmlscraper.aspx?args, or something like that.
It all seems to be sensible to me right now, however, elation is that feeling you have when you get a good idea, and just before you realise what’s wrong with it.
UPDATE [Sept ’07]: I am the Infrastructure Architect for a 9000+ organisation. We finally deployed RSS Bandit and RSS Feeds are being created on the Intranet and in applications. The picture is far from complete as I attempt to build out capabilities in the Social Software space and pitch these into the existing technology ecosystem. For the last year all my blogging has been internal, but I’ve recently started putting some thoughts back out into the public arena. If your struggle reflects mine you might find my new blog of interest.
With some success on the introduction of RSS Readers into the organisation I am shifting my focus to enabling the generation of RSS feeds from internal sources. I have long contended that RSS should become the way forward for internal communications, replacing the oft ignored blunt instrument of email. The big win here is revitalising internal sites. We have many internal sites set up around pieces of work or communities of people. Both suffer from a low number of active, interested readers – a bit like this blog ;).
RSS is part of the cure. I’m sure there are cultural elements to the problem too. The question is how best to go about this. So now I find myself on the other side of the chicken and egg situation. When introducing an RSS Reader the question is why would you without any feeds? Now, still with no full resolution to that problem, why generate feeds before we have a reader?
The answer is simple:
- RSS is coming – IE7 and Vista will both have a common feed store.
- The desktop isn’t the only place to display feeds – you can put them on your intranet sites too.
So do you go to every type of application and find a way to generate an RSS feed from that content? Maybe, but there should be a smarter, quicker way to get there – at least some way there. What I invisage is an engine that will harvest data from a variety of sources (HTML pages, databases, text files etc). Another engine would present this data as RSS. Yet a third will aggregate a list of feeds into one single feed, perhaps with a filter applied.
Such an engine will be able to produce and supply a feed off almost any source without the need to recode that source application. The aggregation element enables several sources to be combed and one feed generated.
So I’ve done a bit of searching to find out what solution may be out there. I found these:
- The Urchin RSS Aggregator – this appears to do exactly what I want, it’s free and written in pearl. If it was written in a language I already know I’d be overjoyed; there’s may be a learning curve here, although I may not need to dig into the code at all.
- RSSdotnet and Atomnet are libraries written in .Net for handling feeds. Unfortunately they have different APIs.
- RSSOwl looks to have a competent reader, which I’ll take a look at, but more importantly an API that handles both RSS and ATOM (0.3 only though). It’s written in Java.
Okay, I think I’ve found something that I might keep blogging here – a new mission, shall we say. How to RSS enable an enterprise.
I will still try to find the time to cross post from internal to external, because I think that will be useful. The trouble is I can say so much more on my internal blog that I wouldn’t say out here, and I just don’t have time to re-edit – besides I don’t know what value, because I don’t know who would read them.
My mission to generate enough interest in RSS, blogs and wikis has gathered a momentum of its own. The underlying technology platform that I chose has remained pretty static; viz. Community Server (standard edition with Windows Authentication module) for blog hosting and MediaWiki for wikis (although I did set up an experimental blog using the WordPress engine for one of the directors last week). The challenge of officially allowing people to blog remains just that, a challenge. I’m going to be writing a blog policy for our IT department; we’ll see where it goes from there.
I’m also going to change the look of the site. Whilst I love the two column layout I can’t stand the colour scheme and the heavy boxy post column.