Marshal Kirkpatrick over at RWW proclaims that Enterprise RSS has died. Taking a closer look at the post reveals some basic misunderstandings of RSS and how it’s being used by organisations.

First up, what he is really talking about is that RSS reader uptake within the enterprise is very low. If we narrowly define RSS reader as a separate single function application (whether desktop or browser based), then I’d probably accept that – installing new software is hard within a lot of orgs (for various reasons), and who really, apart from hard core information fetishists, needs yet another hosepipe of information ?

However, it’s a long leap to equate the lack of uptake of RSS readers (as narrowly defined above) with the death of Enterprise RSS, because the two are *not* necessarily correlated.

When I had my all too brief stint at Headshift, we (and I’m going to say we, because I think I was in the room when this was being discussed – and was definitely in the building somewhere), worked out that within an organsation, RSS was the transport layer for information, upon which all sorts of amazing social, collaborative, filtered applications could be envisaged.

And that still remains the case – from what I see, increasingly, RSS is being offered as a data transfer protocol, or a wire protocol, allowing information to be taken from one source, mashed up, munged or left alone, and reused and redisplayed somwhere else – a dashboard, a custom built application that has information display as one of its features. In many cases, no one using the system is even aware that RSS is being used , or what it is. And that’s fine – they don’t need to.

And there’s more. I’m doing some work for a PCT – a part of the NHS responsible for delivering services to local people In conversations with partner organisations, the following phrases occur often and naturally:

“We’ll supply an RSS feed of news items, you can take that and use it if you want”

“Can you give us an RSS feed of your events so we can add it to our health section”

So, RSS is being used as a transport layer between organisations, allowing simple pubish and subscribe mechanisms to move information around with little additional effort. I’d call that a very significant use of RSS in the enterprise.

So – is RSS dead ? Hell no – it just stopped being an overt feature and became part of the plumbing instead.