Format and Delivery Are Alive And Well (RSS, Twitter, and Newspapers)

Depending on which source you choose, it was a day in September of 1833, possibly this one, that the first newspaper delivery boy responded to an advertisement in the New York Sun:

To the Unemployed – – A number of steady men can find employment by vending this paper. A liberal discount is allowed to those who buy to sell again.

For at least a thousand years, people have been able to receive news through some kind of bulletin or newspaper format. In a printed format.

RSS is a web feed format used by publishers on the internet to make their material available to others somewhat like the print on paper. In an electronic format.

Twitter is a web application that allows users to publish material in a proprietary format using the service as a delivery method.

Google Reader is a web application that delivers material that has been published in the RSS format to users. It uses it’s own delivery method in which it checks with the publisher every so often to see if new content is available.

Now I will switch from definitions to analogies, because analogies help me understand things.

If I visit RSS formatted feeds manually using my browser as the delivery method– I go on a walk through town whenever I have time,  and visit all of the newspaper press buildings to see new content has been printed since I was last there. This takes a while because I need to travel to New York for the Times, DC for the Post, Chicago for the Tribune, etc…

If I use Google Reader (or another aggregator) as the delivery method for my RSS formatted news– I go on a walk every once and a while to my favorite news stand to see if they have any changes in content available from the newspapers I like.

If I use Twitter as the delivery method and format for my news– I go on a walk to the building in San Francisco which Twitter uses to publish content as it happens. This is great because it’s available as soon as somebody submits it. Every once and a while, I even choose a building in another city to look at content delivered by Twitter. These buildings have agreements to be notified of any news coming out of Twitter headquarters as soon as it happens. There are some other buildings that don’t have agreements, but they still check with Twitter headquarters every once and a while, and I can check new material from them when I go to the newspaper stand.

If I’m using rssCloud as the delivery method for my news that is in the RSS format– I stop going for walks. Instead, I have finally decided to sign up for delivery with all of the newspapers that I love to read. I am only required to open my door and read what’s sitting on my porch. I even have access to content that comes from Twitter, because one of the newspapers that I love to read has an agreement to be told of any news from the Twitter system.

Both delivery and format have been around for a while, nobody’s going anywhere. Thanks, Barney Flaherty. 🙂