Monday, April 10, 2006

The Tickerization of Content: ALM's NewsPoint RSS Aggregator Brings Streaming Weblog Updates to the Legal Sector

In the earlier days of the Web many startups were trying to emulate the "ticker" model of financial content providers and stream headlines and stock quotes through a wide variety of downloaded programs. These applications would reside on one's desktop and pop out stock quotes and news headlines as well as sports scores and other content of interest to consumers. These tools still exist, but once the dot-com bubble burst they lost a lot of their appeal. But with the rise of weblogs and the simple syndication model afforded by XML-based protocols such as RSS streaming updates have regained their cachet. ALM has picked up on this streaming trend and announced the release of NewsPoint, downloadable software that provides streaming headlines collected via RSS feeds from a stable of weblogs and Web sites covering legal matters - including, of course, ALM's own subscription-based publications. NewsPoint wraps RSS updates in a reader that makes it easy to print, email and copy articles read in the reader, as well as to read the entries on the native Web sites from which they originate and to maintain content received in the news reader. Text-based ads which are targeted towards the interest of legal readers appear as well. The screen format of NewsPoint is well adapted to portable devices, making it easy for lawyers on the go to keep up with legal news and opinion.

None of these are extraordinary capabilities in and of themselves given the fast pace of product development in the weblog community. But the fact that they are playing out in legal content circles via a major legal publisher underscores how professionals in many business sectors are beginning to adapt attitudes towards their core business content that are not unlike those of their colleagues in financial circles. With the popularization of streaming content targeted towards specific professional audiences business content is beginning to move towards a "real-time"attitude in monitoring developments in their sectors, with opportunities and threats appearing with a regularity that is not too unlike the scrolling of a stock ticker. The fact that it is a business media company and not an aggregator rolling out this tool also underscores that publishers that specialize in specific market sectors are out to claim their own share of the content integration opportunities that used to go to content aggregators in the past with nary a peep of product development from publishers. The New Aggregation is in full swing in legal circles, challenging all suppliers to find new indispensability as users gain the upper hand in choosing the media, enterprise and personal content sources that matter most to them on a daily basis.
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