Bloglines Takes Aggregation Beyond RSS, Blogs

The online service adds package tracking to its subscription options in the first part of its strategy to aggregate more than news feeds and become a 'universal inbox' for Web content.

Bloglines, one of the largest Web-based aggregators of syndicated news feeds, is stepping beyond RSS and Weblogs.

In its first feature launch since being acquired by Ask Jeeves Inc., Bloglines is offering the ability to track packages shipped through United Parcel Service Inc., FedEx Corp. and the U.S. Postal Service.

The package-tracking option went live Wednesday and is the first in many types of dynamic Web content that Bloglines wants to collect in its service.

At its core, Bloglines has provided a way for users to subscribe to and read RSS feeds, an XML-based method for syndicating content from blogs and other sites.

Bloglines also lets users search for feeds and create their own blogs.

To provide package tracking updates, though, Bloglines had to look beyond RSS. Instead, it integrated directly with the shipping services through APIs, said Mark Fletcher, Ask Jeeves vice president and general manager of Bloglines.

"RSS is a very powerful technology, and we continue to enjoy the fact that more and more RSS information is available," Fletcher said.

"[But] there are sources of information that are not in RSS and wont be in the future. And the idea for us is to make it all available to users in our standard interface."

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read about Bloglines approach to tackling RSS bandwidth issues.

As it expands, Bloglines is dubbing its Web-based interface as a "universal inbox." Up next for the inbox will be the ability to track neighborhood weather updates and stock portfolios.

For both, Bloglines will tap into content resources within Ask Jeeves, Fletcher said. He declined to pinpoint when the options would be available.

Ask Jeeves, of Oakland, Calif., bought Bloglines in February in a signal of the growing interest in RSS and blogging among the Webs leading search engines.

/zimages/3/28571.gifRead more here about the future of Ask Jeeves as it becomes a part of Barry Dillers InteractiveCorp.

Ask Jeeves executives have said that they plan to integrate Ask Jeeves Teoma search team with the Bloglines team to build more blog search capabilities and to promote Bloglines through the MyJeeves and other Ask Jeeves services.

Fletcher said that integration work is progressing, but he declined to provide details.

Bloglines isnt alone in trying to branch out from RSS and blogs.

Startup PubSub Concepts Inc., which provides a service for proactively tracking keywords in blogs and news feeds, last month added earthquake data from the U.S. Geological Survey to its tracking engine.

PubSub executives also have said that they are working to access more types of Web content through the tracking service.

Bloglines, which indexes more than 370 million news feeds and blog postings, already had offered non-RSS subscription options.

It lets users create multiple Bloglines e-mail accounts in order to subscribe to e-mail newsletters and receive updates through their Bloglines feed reader.

"Our vision is that the Internet has tons and tons of information that youre interested in," Fletcher said. "You shouldnt have to go out and grab that information, but it should come to you."

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