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This week: RSS branding, More Web 2.0 definitions, Spam and fake blogs, MBAs learn about Web 2.0, Techie post of the week.

RSS Brand Morphs Into Feeds

A lot of interest this week in how the label 'RSS' is being usurped by 'feeds' or 'Web feeds'. Once the accepted brand name for syndication technologies, the big 3 Internet companies are all now using the term 'feeds' (or 'web feeds' in Microsoft's case) as their preferred method of promoting RSS technologies to their mainstream users. Most other RSS-related companies are doing the same: Feedburner, Six Apart, Bloglines are just a few high profile examples. And judging by all the comments on my initial post about this, a majority of people feel that 'feeds' is a better brand name for Web syndication technologies than 'RSS'. 

But still, the term 'RSS' won't go out of usage amongst the geek set. RSS 2.0 is the dominant feed format - and is likely to remain so, unless Google can push their preferred Atom format onto the masses. And the RDF-derived RSS 1.0 will continue to have its fair share of disciples. Feeds is the way we'll be promoting all of these formats to mainstream users, but it won't stop us geeks from continuing our religious battles over RSS vs Atom and so forth :-)

Web 2.0 Definition Rolls On

There were some very interesting discussions about the meaning of Web 2.0 this week, sparked by Web legend Tim Bray's post entitled Not Web 2.0. Tim O'Reilly replied to Bray's post - see also the fascinating comments thread. I especially liked this comment made by someone called "pb":

"Web 1 was the period up to the dot bomb. Web 2 is what has been emerging, what has been succeeding, since that big implosion. I believe that this is the way most "average" people -- if not the technical elite -- will perceive the terms."

I'll be writing LOTS more about all this in the near future (that message brought to you by the Subtle Hint Department). For now I just want to point out that the term 'Web 2.0' seems to be generally accepted now. There still isn't a canonical definition, despite the best efforts of the Wikipedia contributers. But the conversations about Web 2.0 are helping everyone grok the term.

Spam and Fake Blogs

Dave Sifry has been running a series of thought-provoking posts on the "State of the Blogosphere". I particularly liked the 4th in the series, on the topic of Spam and Fake Blogs. The two most contentious posts I've ever written on R/WW were on this touchy topic, because it riles people up (including me!). 

Dave wrote that Technorati has been "tracking an increase in the number of people who are trying to manipulate the blogosphere." He goes on to say that spam and fake blogs are almost always created by automated programs, not by people. They're driven by affiliate or advertising money and high search rankings. So Dave and others are working hard to "eliminate economic incentives" for these types of blogs. 

Of course I heartily endorse and applaud this action by Dave, because as I mentioned in my (in)famous Bots post - these automated spam or fake blogs are polluting the Web and cluttering up search engine results.

MBA Blogging Success

The results are in for Bud Gibson's recent blogging bootcamp for Michigan MBA students. Over 6 weeks the students created and maintained blogs that competed with "cleaning and restoration services" websites. The results are interesting. All of the blogs ended up with a Google PageRank of 5, which was better than three of the old school websites. According to Bud, this suggested "that bootcamp sites would come out ahead of these two sites in searches where their content is equally relevant". The blog sites also had encouraging results in keyword tests.

Bud concluded:

"The bootcamp results demonstrate that with moderate but systematic effort bloggers can achieve search visibility that outperforms established local players for relevant searches."

This is what could be termed The Good Side of blogs for businesses. The Dark Side is the spam and fake blogs I wrote about above. It seems to be relatively easy nowadays for both sides to gain search engine ascendancy over old-school websites.

Nevertheless, it is great that up and coming business people are being taught the value of blogs and social software. You may've noticed that in my Weekly Wrap-Ups, I try to highlight non-techie manifestations of Web 2.0 as well as the geeky stuff. If the Web really is a platform, then we want to encourage as many people as possible to build on it.

Techie Post of the Week

Instead of a single post, this week I'd like to give a shout-out to the TechCrunch blog. Their regular profiles of Web 2.0 companies is exhaustive and wide-ranging.

They also have a weekly review of Web 2.0 news, modelled on my own Weekly Wrap-Up. But whereas I generally pick a few topics or a theme and drill down, the TechCrunch weekly provides broad coverage. So I think we complement each other in that respect. OK yes, we did have some friendly words about the name of their weekly review - but we've sorted that out now :-) I recommend you add TechCrunch to your RSS Aggregator.

That's a wrap for another week!