Friday, May 6, 2005

Factiva Adds RSS Feeds via NewsGator with Lockdown Feature

As noted in Online Media Daily premium content aggregator Factiva is launching a new RSS feed service via NewsGator software and services. NewsGator is a "feeds made simple" solution that makes RSS-formatted XML feeds available via Microsoft Outlook and other interfaces and works actively with premium publishers to add valuable content for consumers and enterprises. The NewsGator software is provided for free to Factiva subscribers while existing NewsGator users may access Factiva content for a fee. Great stuff, but with some of the caveats you'd expect from an aggregator like Factiva. The feeds available are "Editor's Choice", meaning you have a selection of 25 pre-defined topic areas, and require authentication to access. According to Factiva's RSS FAQ page, "Factiva believes that at present, the authentication model for RSS subscription is not sufficiently secure to protect Factiva customers from abuse of their accounts. To enable personal folders, more confidential user information would need to be included in the RSS files to provide a suitable user experience. Using 'standard' folders like Editor's Choice allows us to provide a reasonably secure experience, while still providing valuable utility." In other words, Factiva's not ready from a business or technical standpoint to let users define their own feeds based on their existing folders and alerts tools.

Well, it's a step in the right direction, but the lack of user control over content limits the usefulness of the feed outputs - kind of a Dow Jones-ey safe approach to feeds that limits the value of RSS to deliver highly focused content to highly focused audiences. Score one for Factiva for choosing an excellent partner for this new user-friendly arrangement and for being able to say "yes" to RSS, but also score one for tailored feed suppliers such as Newstex that can create well-focused and well-tagged news feeds in RSS and other useful output formats for major institutions, with high-quality weblogs thrown in to boot. There's lots more opportunity to exploit RSS as a highly focused content delivery vehicle for premium content, especially if authentication and licensing schemes can be made more adaptable to today's content distribution realities.
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