The blog of Rahoul Baruah from 3hv Ltd

What's going on?

My name is Rahoul Baruah (aka Baz) and I'm a software developer in Leeds (England).

This is a log of things I've discovered while writing software in Ruby on Rails. In other words, geek stuff.

However, I've decided to put this blog on ice - I would ask you to check out my business blog here (or subscribe here).

16 October, 2007

Cutting out the middle-man

I have just spent the last two days in the company of Euan Semple discussing online communications. Some interesting points were raised, but the thing that stuck in my mind was when Euan said

I hate it when people moan about the amount of email they get
- which is certainly an idea a lot of people have at the minute. Personally, I have little trouble with email - my personal inbox has one mail in it, my business inbox eight. Because it is a psuedo-to-do list and I clear it out as often as possible (reply, archive or delete - a decision that only takes a fraction of a second per mail).

Where I do have a problem is my RSS feeds. When you switch on in the morning and see a thousand unread items that scanning is likely to take some time (I've got 181 to look at at the minute)

But Euan got me thinking.

A few years back Direct Line revolutionised insurance (if such a thing is possible in that type of industry). Instead of paying a broker to choose your insurance for you, why not go direct and pocket the difference? Of course, to compete, every other insurance firm had to open up their own direct sales channel. Which means, when it comes to choosing your insurance provider, you have to hunt through tens of sites, repeating your personal information over and over, getting unwanted spam and eventually settling on the first quote you got because you are so sick of the whole process.

So what has happened now? You get "price comparison" sites that "take the legwork out of choosing your insurance". Of course, these are free to you - they make their money by taking a commission on each sale. Sound familiar? That's right, it's the return of the broker, only this time on the web - and you pay the extra for the convenience.

How does this apply to RSS? Well, if this feed-overload continues (and it will take a while as there are still a sizable population that is not even aware of feeds) then what's the betting that there will soon be the equivalent of "information brokers" - you specify your interests and they give you the latest news and updates without all that tedious scanning and searching.

In other words, the return of the portal, only this time in NetNewsWire.

1 comment:

Euan Semple said...

Been good to work with you over the past two days.

I reckon you are right that there is a market for tailored information gathering, in fact guys like Alacra and Factiva are already getting into aggregation and RSS, but some of us will still want to "roll our own"

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