Blastfeed and the Future of RSS Filtering

Blastfeed is the latest in RSS filter products to
cross my virtual desk. Back in April I looked at this
space
and at the time noted that filtering would be a hot topic in 2006. Why? Because
it’s the next step up from RSS aggregation, as many of us now have too much information
coming at us.

But we’re now at the end of November and really, to be frank, there hasn’t been much
progress made in the RSS filtering space.

First a bit of background about why information filtering is so important. Marshall
Kirkpatrick wrote a
post
this week explaining how he monitors RSS feeds to get the latest news of
interest to him. Like Marshall, I’m an Information Omnivore (I’ll devour anything and
everything!), but it’s important for my business that I not get overwhelmed with
information. As it is, I’m guilty of not replying to too many emails – let alone keeping
up with the hundreds of RSS feeds I subscribe to. And OK, both Marshall and I are
RSS-obsessed bloggers – but in reality nearly everyone is overloaded with information
these days, RSS or not.

So what to do to overcome info overload? Marshall hinted in his post that he uses
filtering and similar methods:

“I haven’t included any discussion about small things like filtering feeds, scraping
feeds or using RSS and email together but there’s a lot more that can be done with RSS
for research than I feel like writing about this morning.”

Blastfeed is one of those new kinds of filtering tools. Developed by Paris company 2or3things, Blastfeed enables
people to filter individual RSS feeds or groups of feeds. Patrick Ferran from 2or3things
told me they’re aiming the product at “info-consumers (like yourself) and for the
corporate world.”

As of now Blastfeed does pretty much the same things as FeedRinse, the RSS filter service I profiled back in
April [disclosure: I did a very short bit of consulting to FeedRinse in May]. Both
services allow you to input a set of feeds and do filtering on them – essentially
creating new feeds, which you then add to your regular RSS Reader. Blastfeed also lets
you create email alerts, or a widget for your blog – and IM/SMS notifications are coming
soon. In that sense, Blastfeed also has similarities with ZapTxt, which recently introduced new
features such as publisher widgets and custom RSS feeds.

One problem with all of these specialist filtering tools is that you can’t filter and
read in the same place. In my view, RSS filter services are crying out to be full-blown
RSS Readers too. Although granted, that’s not the case for IM/SMS based services such as
ZapTxt. But if you’re going to offer a filtering service with RSS output, why not integrate a
full-featured RSS Reader?

In other words, I want to do my filtering and reading from the same service. Some of
the popular RSS Readers already allow you to do this – think FeedDemon, Blogbridge and
Google Reader. So while Blastfeed and FeedRinse are both great services, I question
whether I’d want to do my filtering in a separate application to my reading.

Having said that, I like where Blastfeed is heading and I can certainly see a future
for advanced stand-alone RSS filtering services. According to Patrick, here is part of
what they have planned for the future:

“One other direction we want to take Blastfeed to would be to use it as a platform to
manage all kinds of media generating/powering RSS. For instance, TV / VOD providers could
send their programs in RSS, and users could actually set a channel for such specific
topic of interest. Whenever a TV / VOD content described in the RSS feeds matches the
users requirements it could trigger a notification to an application that would record
the film for later viewing, etc. Combination with other media assets (Podcasts,
videocast, news and blogs feeds, company feeds, etc.) can then be envisaged as well.”

So this is an excellent way forward. In summary, while I’d like to have my
filtering/reading wrapped up in one service – I also see the benefits of focusing on
advanced filtering functionality.

Facebook Comments