By Steve Gillmor  |  Posted 2003-12-14 Print this article Print

-Based Distribution Solutions"> There are server solutions to the polling problem, including Dave Winers sub-element documented on the RSS 2.0 site maintained by Harvards Berkman Center. Or you could use a service like Dave Sifrys Technorati to inform you of updates as they occur. An email or instant message alert might be too disruptive for some, but building the service into the reader (or information router as I prefer to call it) could prove popular. Sifry suggests how this might work:
"In order to facilitate an event-based mechanism to eliminate inefficient polling of RSS feeds, the subscribers information router can request a notification via XMPP (or other notification protocol) whenever the feed is updated. Technorati is notified of the feed update via XML-RPC ping call as the normal result of the CMS update procedure, and then proceeds to notify all of the information routers that the new content is available, along with the BitTorrent URL - then the information routers collectively download and distribute the new content via BitTorrent. The original feed is only downloaded when it is seeding the BitTorrent peers, and the subscribers get to take advantage of the highly available fresh content."
There we have it: two disruptive technologies coming together to produce an outcome thats win-win for each other. For BitTorrents peer-to-peer part, the fact that its author controls RSS content takes that bit of digital McCarthyism off the table. And as for RSS, this solution requires no changes to the specification whatsoever. Its up to content providers to support it on the server (no problem, since it cuts costs) and aggregator/reader/routers to support it on the client (those who dont see the benefits aint paying attention). As for me, Im off to listen to some Chris Lydon RSS audio, downloaded via Dave Winers Enclosure extension and copied to my Microsoft DRM-free iPod. Hi ho hi ho disruptively we go… Discuss This in the eWEEK Forum Messaging & Collaboration Center Editor Steve Gillmor can be reached at

Steve Gillmor is editor of's Messaging & Collaboration Center. As a principal reviewer at Byte magazine, Gillmor covered areas including Visual Basic, NT open systems, Lotus Notes and other collaborative software systems. After stints as a contributing editor at InformationWeek Labs, editor in chief at Enterprise Development Magazine, editor in chief and editorial director at XML and Java Pro Magazines, he joined InfoWorld as test center director and columnist.

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