Google recently released their funky Ajax web-based RSS reader the other day and I have to admit, my first reaction was of the "oh no" variety. Funny thing is, that was before I even took a look at it 😳
But as Paul Scrivens reminds us, this was a common reaction in the old days of Microsoft dominance:
Remember back in the 90's when it was somewhat tough being an Independent Software Vendor due to the simple fact that you were never sure if Microsoft was going to enter your niche and simply buy up your competition or create something of their own? They didn't even have to create anything wonderful, just a product that was functional and they had already dominated that industry. The first release would get bashed by the public, but they would continuously pump out new releases that got better and better till there was no more competition. Those days weren't very fun.
Now we have to worry about Google doing exactly what Microsoft did in the past.
The general consensus seems to be that Google's reader kinda works but is not particularly impressive (although it is admittedly still only in beta). Now, this may be partly due to the high expectations we all seem to have for Google's offerings but it also fits the profile described above.
My initial "oh no" reaction came from the realization that it was going to be tough trying to persuade Joe Average (and his mum) of not only the benefits of using RSS but also why they should use a desktop-based reader instead of some whiz-bang browser-based one that can be accessed from anywhere.
But I've already written about the underlying concepts behind Awasu:
In the very early days of Awasu, I wrote a document in which I said that RSS could be considered simply as a means of transporting information around. And it doesn’t have to be limited to news or blog posts. Just look at enclosures, piggy-backing on feed items as they move around the net via RSS. Furthermore, using XML namespaces, people can embed whatever information they like into a feed and ship it around using RSS.
The entire architecture of Awasu reflects this underlying concept of RSS as a transport system for information.
It's not just about reading blogs :-). The driving idea behind Awasu's architecture is that it is a clearing house and processing engine for information. RSS is just the means by which that information gets moved around.
As I wrote yesterday, Awasu can be customized to manage and respond intelligently to your information, in the way that you want, ways that we could never even dream of!
Plugins can be used to retrieve information from anywhere (not just web-based feeds) and just as importantly, safely from behind the firewall. Information that you would never be able to make available to a third party (e.g. Google's RSS reader). And then channel hooks can be used to respond intelligently to that information as soon as it comes in.
Toss in our advanced archiving and search facilities and an API to access them and you have an amazingly powerful framework for managing and responding to the ever-increasing flow of information that bombards us each day.
I'd like to see a browser-based aggregator do all of that 😎