The Coming Web Revolution
Big changes are afoot online. It’s still early, but I see two trends that will impact online marketing: 1) the sharing of content and 2) the sharing of applications.
These two trends haven’t fully arrived, and so they don’t have well-established names yet. But their early glimmers are visible today in the growth of really simple syndication (RSS) and the growing popularity of Web service application programming interfaces (APIs).
These trends — let’s call them “open content” and “open apps” — are coming fast. During the next few years they’ll revolutionize the Web, and in doing so, revolutionize online marketing. This article will show you why open content and open apps will matter to your business in the future, and explain how savvy catalogers can start using them today.
What Is Open Content?
I’ll use the phrase open content to describe sharing your online content (e.g., product information, specs, reviews, musings, customer feedback) in computer friendly format, usually XML.
The best example of open content today is RSS. With RSS, you can share information with customers, vendors and the media — in short, the entire world. Because RSS is a computer friendly format, it makes it easy for others to search your data, fetch it, republish it and use it in interesting ways.
Many people think of RSS as related to blogging. And indeed, blogging platforms use RSS to syndicate content across the Web.
Digression: If you haven’t checked out the blog phenomenon yet, do so today. The blogosphere is growing at a phenomenal rate. Technorati, a blog search engine, reports the number of blogs has doubled in the last five months, reaching 16.4 million blogs in September 2005. For starters, check out www.bloglines.com, www.newsgator.com and www.blogger.com. But RSS extends far beyond blogging. Here’s a grab-bag of some creative non-blog uses of RSS: