April 9, 2011

RSS Behaviour Redefined: Rhizophilous Social Sources

RSS (known as Really Simple Syndication or occasionally as Rich Site Summary and RDF Site Summary) is defined by PC Magazine as follows:

A syndication format that was developed by Netscape in 1999 and became very popular for aggregating updates to blogs and news sites.

Although I’m not advocating to actually change the RSS definition, perhaps it’s time we viewed it as more than syndication of content.

Another way to view RSS is as a collaborative behaviour. Imagine it as a mechanism in which we, Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0/Social Business consumers and creators, aggregate, enhance and improve user-generated social content itself.

Rather than thinking RSS is merely a technical gadget that provides collated content to our various RSS readers, we can begin to think of it as a collaborative behaviour. A behaviour that can help the user with their own learning, perhaps saving time in the learning process itself, or better yet – improving the content over time.

As various content comes flooding into your reader, the behaviour is not only to read it; the behaviour should be to augment the content with either your personal comments or your own individual thoughts (blog, article, video, etc.) be it at that moment or at a later date after appropriate synthesis.

My belief is that many non-2.0 trailblazers (ie. the majority of the population) either don’t understand the power of RSS, or use it simply to read content, not to contribute back.

Knowing full well the term “Rhizophilous Social Sources” is far too indiscernible, I’m interested in it from the perspective of thinking of RSS as a collaborative behaviour.

Rhizophilous itself is a scientific term that has more to do with plants and is defined as:

Growing or thriving on or near roots.

If you take the word ‘roots’ and use it interchangeably with ‘original content’, the purpose of RSS then becomes the behaviour in which users are sourcing social, user generated content and adding (ie. growing) to the original root through their own ideas, input, feedback, etc. through their readers.

(yes, I’m aware it’s not only social user generated content that can be fed through RSS readers)

Bottom line is that when introducing RSS to your users, we all should be positioning it as both a technological marvel as well as a collaborative behaviour, and not just as a fancy tool. That defeats the purpose.

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