Feedburner has integrated Web services with feeds, in a new product released just now called FeedFlare. I got a sneak preview of FeedFlare and it's currently activated in my RSS feed. You may have noticed some new active and contextual links at the bottom of each of my posts, in your RSS Aggregator. Things like 'Email this', 'Email the author', Technorati data, del.icio.us tags and an 'Add to del.icio.us' option. All links that add interactivity and social context to my feed.
What are the new features? Firstly here's a screenshot, taken from my Rojo account, that shows Feedflare in action. Notice the blue links at the bottom? Those are the FeedFlare links...
Wordpress users also get a 'Comments' link, showing how many comments each post has.
The reason I'm excited about this is because my feed gets around 5-6 times more coverage than my actual website these days. My feed is where the action is, not my site. So any way I can find to improve the user's experience and introduce more interactivity into my feed, I'm going to snap it up! If people are 5 times more likely to read my content in an RSS Aggregator than on my website, there's no use me fighting it - I have to start bringing functionality to my feed. That's what makes FeedFlare so promising.
In their press release, Feedburner called the FeedFlare links a "live thread" and a way of adding community and actions to a feed. This is part of Feedburner's current strategy to manage syndicated content "at a more atomic level". As Feedburner VP of business development Rick Klau said, FeedFlare allows publishers to "deliver meaningful interactivity along with content and further the two-way dialogue with their subscribers".
This is just the beginning too. Feedburner plans to roll out more features for FeedFlare, including a set of open APIs "to allow third-party developers to build and integrate custom FeedFlare services".
Congrats Feedburner on making exciting progress on RSS usability and functionality. I've felt for a while now that RSS is a first-class citizen of content publishing, arguably more important than HTML nowadays (according to my own blog stats anyway). So RSS feeds deserve first class functionality and interactivity too - and Feedburner is delivering it.
Update: See Feedburner's post about FeedFlare. TechCrunch has more details, including an interesting comments thread, and Fred Wilson relates it to his four rules for the future of media. All well worth reading.