The Orange Icon, part 2

Feed Icon Microsoft has decided. The feed indicator in IE 7 is still orange!
Most surprisingly it’s the same one that Firefox has. Well, not so much of a surprise, because it was the Mozilla foundation who kindly ‘donated’ it:

Thanks again to the Mozilla team for making the icon available and helping us do the right thing for all browser users.

It’s a good thing there’s some in-browser ‘standardisation’ on the RSS/Atom/Feed front. But what about those orange XML/RSS/Atom chicklets everywhere? How about some standardisation there? Maybe in conjunction with the above mentioned icon? Like so? Feed Chicklet

The Orange Icon..

You know the one that signals a webfeed (formerly known as RSS or Atom). Over at Microsoft they’re pondering what new icon they should pick. Mind you, this single icon will be viewed by millions of upcoming IE 7 users.
So all you usability guru’s, web designer, graphic designers, … if you have an alternative or an opinion go and leave a comment on their Team RSS blog now!!!

This is what they’ve come up with so far:

  1. beta 1
  2. gleam
  3. ring
  4. spark
  5. waves

Personally I’m not sure what to think of it. Besides “I don’t like them…”. Maybe it’s because they’re ripped out of their context, namely the address bar of the upcoming IE 7. Or it’s just something brewing in the back of my head. (And should I tell Microsoft…?)

Google Blog Search fixes referral keywords

During the first ’24 hours’ of live beta, Google’s Blog Search was a nightmare for keyword tracking. Some of you noticed some weird referers showing up in their counter-tools. All this was caused by the redirects from the search results from Blog Search. This meant that anyone entering your site was leaving a referal from the redirect from Blog Search (are you following me still?)

Simply put. Most statistical packages are keen to intercept the referring (‘How did you get here’) page. Especially the search parameters of Google that come with it. Google’s Blog Search simply masked its existence by replacing the keywords (?q=my+search) with the destination (?q=http://www.thinklemon.com/). Throwing off your tracker.

See the rumblings.
But as promised by Blogger Buzz the redirect would be gone. And eventually it did. πŸ™‚

Google Blogsearch & Webfeeds

At first look there are no orange XML/RSS chicklets in Google Blogsearch. But if you look at the bottom of the page just above the pagination there’s this line where you can subscribe to either an Atom or RSS feed for the search results.

E.g.: “Thinklemon” search results in Atom and “Thinklemon” search results in RSS.

This is great stuff for some ‘egosurfing‘. πŸ™‚ But I have to give it to MSN Search. As a search engine they were there first.
If it weren’t for Firefox’s Live Bookmarks I would just have missed this option.

Update: It seems that the feeds are ordered by relevance per default. You’ll need to sort your results on date first (top right) and then subscribe to get a feed ordered on post date.

Just a thought.

The present: Most people come to you via a search engine (probably through Google, although Yahoo! is on the return). Some people come via Technorati, Bloglines or other RSS feed engine. And some are family, friends, co-workers, affiliates, … the people you meet in real life. All 6 of them. πŸ˜‰

Given the state of current search engines, they’re stumbling over one another for the largest and fastest index, and the state of the ‘distributed web’ via RSS services (*cough web 2.0*). Does it really matter whether your site is in ‘shape’, a.k.a. designed? What matters these days is crawlability and indexability. In fact with add-ons like GreaseMonkey you cannot even be sure that your visitors will see what you’ve intended. Shuther to think what you’ll break when you update your site for someone running a GreaseMonkey script.

The future: Here’s my thought. What if? I’ll just revert to HTML 2.0. Google & Co understands it very well. And instead of chronological blogging or filling my web space, I’ll just put up thoughts and keep on writing on them totally visibly for you.

Hold up. That’s called a wiki!

Yes. πŸ™‚ But think of it. What’s so different from a blog? Blog (and forum) people put up ‘updated’-tags in their posts to signal a change. So what if I don’t have to care about that? I’m thinking cross-over wiki/weblog. Just let me write, note, jot, expand, figure out, take a sidestep, draw, video-tape it or just delete. And you, my audience, all 6 of you, could comment in the proceedings? You know, just like a weblog. You’re probably saying OPML? No, from what I’ve seen it’s not what I want.

Come to think of it. It’s much like building your own personal Wikipedia, pinging around whenever I press a button (feeds), having a sitemap so search engines (G. Sitemaps) are filled with their hunger, put up an OPML to keep mister Winer happy, put up a webservice/API so every webdeveloper can rehash my content on their mobile, … Who cares about my site? It’s about distributing it.

Like I said, just a thought.

Enough with the RSS, just call it webfeeds!

I’ve been following the ‘discussion’ a.k.a. mud-slinging for some time now. And sorry for mister Winer, but it’s everything against the name. Acronyms are fine, just as long as there’s something simple to back it up. A CD is a shiny silver disc that holds (expensive) music. A DVD is a shiny silver disc that holds video. ABS makes your braking safer, supposedly. A PC is something to run Windows on.

The problem with acronyms is that it can mean several things. PC can also means Politically Correct. See what else ABS, CD or AVI can be.

But let’s focus on RSS. Now, you tell me: Is it ‘Really Simple Syndication’, ‘Rich Site Summary’ or ‘RDF Site Summary’? This confussion has been going on for some years now. Although I might say the winning hand is on Really Simple Syndication (RSS 2.0 that is). But what does Syndication mean (to the general public)? So I can syndicate in a simple fashion … what? I can’t explain this to my father (60+).

I do however can explain to my father: “Hey, click on that orange button. See? It’s in your bookmarks. Now you can see what’s new over there, everytime you look. Neat? You are now ‘fed over the web’ with the latest news, weather forecasts, sea-levels, bingo-results, whatever. And you’ll have to do exactly nothing. Just look.”

And this is exactly why I think this is a non-discussion. RSS, RDF, Feeds, Webfeeds, Web Feeds, I personally don’t care what it’s called. I care what it does. There still isn’t a single way or application that makes it easy for John Doe to use feeds. I’ve always said that RSS/webfeeds will only break through if Microsoft will deliver a feedreader with the next Office installment. Or as it seems, that they will bake it in the OS. Untill then it will be geek-stuff only. (Did anyone see the reports?)

And I’m sorry mister Winer, Scoble and Dotzler, why don’t you agree on a single simple way to subscribe to feeds. Let’s call it Really Simple Subscription. And use, let’s say feed://subscribe.my.feed/. Just like everyone is used to http: and mailto:

RSS Statistical facts

While we’re on the subject of RSS. It appears that “only 2% of online adults and 5% of online teens in North America use RSS, according to Forrester.” They are also mainly male, spend more time online than non-RSS readers, technically interested, surf broadband and/or wireless, mainly read news, research products and publish/maintain blogs. (In summary… don’t you love aggregation? ;-))

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has some more interesting data (July 2005). When asked: “Please tell me if you have a good idea what the term means, or if you arenÒ€ℒt really sure what it means.“, and supplying the terms: “Spam, Internet cookies, Adware, Internet Phishing, Podcasting, Spyware, RSS feeds and Firewall”, the result was that RSS Feeds came in last with only 9% having a good idea, 65% not really sure and 26% never heard of it. What strikes me is that podcasting (13% has a good idea) is so much more familiar. See the report (PDF).

More info: Feeding on RSS at eMarketer, via Marketingfacts (Dutch)

RSS Ping

Here’s something interesting:

RSS Ping logoRSS Ping combines RSS item metadata with site update information. It enhances the current ping specification, adding information about exactly what has been updated or published, with the notification that something has been updated. RSS Ping reduces the need to revisit or work done by aggregators and search engines when revisiting the publisher site after being pinged, to provide truly real-time updates for information on the Web.

For what I can make of it, it’s meant to extend the current ping standard by letting the ping server collect a so-called ‘payload’. The payload is nothing more than a feed with a single item. Therefore eliminating the need to collect the originating page or complete feed.

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