Over the years, I’ve found that one of my favorite uses of RSS are personalized, or parametrized, RSS feeds. They are feeds that track mentions of a specific topic, company or product that I’m personally interested in. I’m currently subscribed to a couple of ego feeds (tracking the (rare 🙂 ) mention of my name and blog in the blogosphere), several feeds tracking news mentions of companies I follow and six Craigslist feeds tracking rare cars for sale and some real estate I’m curious about in San Francisco.
Just for kicks, I put together this page with examples of personalized RSS feeds . One of my favorite ones, Craigslist, is a little more complicated to point to (it’s easier to just go to one of their search result pages and click on the RSS button to get a custom feed for that search, for example this feed tracks Alfa Romeos for sale in the Bay Area). I’d love to hear from people who know of other types of personalized feeds.
I wonder why the idea of personalized feeds has not yet taken off. It gets talked about, for example Dave Winer mentions it often, recently by saying “Intrusive ads, the ones that Google sells, are so so tired. Feeds containing commercial information people want, are wired”. Personalized feeds seem to deliver great benefits to users and publishers, they’re technically easy to build and the business model is compelling (as a realtor, wouldn’t you want to figure out how to show up in my personalized real estate feed?). Yet these feeds are only accessible to determined geeks at this point. I’m puzzled that no one has gone through the trouble of making them easy to publish, find and use.