RSS is becoming a standard for content syndication on the web, although competing "standards" versions may be hampering it's growth somewhat, particularly with companies that are concerned about supporting multiple formats. (Updated 2/14/2004)
UPDATE: you can download the slides from this talk here. Audio recordings of ETech 2004 talks should also be available in a few weeks.
RSS is becoming a standard for content syndication on the web, although competing "standards" versions may be hampering it's growth somewhat, particularly with companies that are concerned about supporting multiple formats.
RSS has a rather twisted version history (see xml.com for more), but it's clear by the number of commercial and personal websites that support one or more versions of RSS that it's becoming a defacto standard on the web. However, many content providers and aggregators still request and require non-standard feeds, sometimes based on a standard but modified to support extensions that supposedly provide some business advantage, but end up just creating the need to support multiple formats.
Internally to a company, however, using a standard like RSS for content syndication and collaboration can provide great benefits, especially with the repurposing of content. For example, internal feeds to populate a web site or that are generated for content parters can be repurposed to provide data for external, public feeds, or to provide data for other end clients, such as cell phones and other devices.
RSS can also be used as the basis for collaboration: sharing information and articles internally within a group or company via blogs is a great way to collaborate and share research.
I will be speaking about how Disney is leveraging RSS in content syndication, distribution and collaboration at the upcoming Emerging Technology Conference in San Diego, in February, 2004.
The distribution model of RSS, based on client side polling, is fundamentally flawed. It just doesn't scale; it's like a distributed denial of service attack where popular feeds are victim of their own success.
RSS works reasonably in small communities and internally for companies, but it's going to cause a lot more grief in the near future as it catches on... This is the major roadblock to widespread adoption. There was a big debate about it recently in some of the blogs from Artima's Tech Buzz section.
We need to borrow the key concept behind RSS (rich XML format) and find a way to distribute it better: something event driven on the server side like mailing lists with PGP authentified messages, or bittorent hosts...
So you support the RSS concept, but not the RSS implementation. I understand your argument. However, RSS exists now, and a worthy successor doesn't yet (to the best of my knowledge) exist. Often times such flawed implementations of a concept are still "good enough" to enable advances in other areas. So the flawed implementation of RSS should not be used (or seen) as a straw man argument that belittles higher-level accomplishments built on top of it (especially if those applications do not run into the limitations of RSS's flaws).
I'm rather curious about the application of RSS as mentioned above by Freeman. I hope she expands more on what was done at Disney in this blog, as I cannot attend the conference she mentions.