Sharing with One Another
Technically, FeedMesh works based on a set of agreed-upon specifications where participants share their updates with one another, and the updates are pushed out to other members. It turns a process what has been based on feed aggregators actively polling for updates into a push model, Wyman said. "What were really doing is setting up a shared understanding of procedures and protocols, and then we have a set of bi-party peering agreements," Wyman said. "Its a very loose idea, and its a massively higher level of cooperation than we have ever seen on Web to date."A co-founder of Six Apart Ltd., one of the major makers of blog-publishing tools, agreed that cooperation among competitors is possible. "I have faith that people will be able to collaborate and build a good aggregated system," said Ben Trott, also CTO at Six Apart. "Weve seen other examples in recent times of aggregators and publishers being able to collectively come up with standards." Trott said he has followed FeedMeshs development and that it could help relieve the burden of blog-tool makers to continually build in support for new ping services. But he also said that FeedMesh remains in its early days, and that he is waiting for more documentation on the details of the effort. "From the publishing side, its less duplication of effort," Trott said. "A ping service is a level up from having to tell everyone interested that you updated a blog, and FeedMesh is a level up from that because youre telling an uber-organization." For FeedMesh participant Blogdigger, a blog and feed search service, the initiative has allowed it to double the number of feeds it is monitoring and to track them more efficiently, said Greg Gershman, president of Baltimore, Md.-based Blogdigger. "This is where things are going, and its much easier on our part if there are services that push updates to you," Gershman said. What about RSS advertising? Click here to read about how Google and Blogdigger getting into the act. FeedMesh also carries extra information within its updates. They point to the URL of the actual RSS feed, rather than simply the blog site, as it often done in ping services, Wyman said. That helps save time and resources for aggregators and search engines. Eventually, even by the end of the year, the full RSS and Atom feeds could be included within FeedMesh notifications, Wyman said. FeedMesh isnt the only project emerging as an extension to ping services. A centralized hub for pings called Ping-O-Matic also has been gaining attention. The service grew out of the community for open-source blog-publishing tool WordPress in March 2004, but it now supports additional blog tools such as Drupal and Textpattern, said Matthew Mullenweg, a co-founder of Ping-O-Matic and lead developer of WordPress. Ping-O-Matic receives pings from blog-publishing tools as well as directly from blogs. It then passes those pings on to about 13 other ping services, by default. It also has an HTML interface wherein blogs can specify ping services with which to share updates, Mullenweg explained. Ping-O-Matic is open to any service that wants pings and is aiming to simplify the process of notifying the ever-growing number of aggregation and search services. It also holds a different position in the market than PubSub, the main backer of FeedMesh which is also a commercial feed aggregator itself, Mullenweg said. "Were trying to position Ping-O-Matic around the fact that it doesnt do anything with the data except pass it on, so theres no reason not to be fair and unbiased," Mullenweg said. Check out eWEEK.coms for more on IM and other collaboration technologies.
FeedMeshs success, in large part, could hinge on whether or not companies that often compete with one another will be willing to cooperate in sharing information on feed updates. Wyman is confident, noting that rather than duplicate their efforts in finding updates, the participants could focus their competition on specific features and services.