The web isn’t about pages any more. Now it’s about streams, feeds and syndication. As part of our annual Best of Series, below are our picks for the most important RSS and Syndication Technologies of 2009.
You can see last year’s list here and most of those remain important services. Only one service makes a repeat appearance this year. It was a very big year for this class of technologies, after a long, sleepy period the Real-Time Web began to cause substantial disruptions over the last 12 months. Check out our list below and let us know if we’ve missed anything important or who your picks might be for next year.
ReadWriteWeb’s Best Products of 2009:
Facebook has 350 million users today. Just 12 months ago there were a mere 140 million Facebook users. A syndicated stream is the default view in Facebook, meaning that 210 million more people have been introduced to this paradigm by Facebook in 2009. That’s a powerful cultural change.
Twitter may not be anywhere near the size of Facebook, nor growing as fast, but for tens of millions of people, 2009 was a year they got comfortable with streams, lists (just like cute little OPML files!) and soon geolocation data – thanks to Twitter.
Echo, from JS-Kit is a reverse syndication service for distributed social media conversations. It brings back tweets and other mentions to the page they refer to. The service is growing fast and becoming more sophisticated every week. New features come so fast and furious that it’s overwhelming but the end result is an experience that brings the dispersed social web back together again.
Fever is a gorgeous new RSS reader that costs $30 and lives on your own server. It’s got a very interesting system for ranking hot stories by your own criteria – we just wish we could change the timeframe so that ranking was for every 2 or 3 hours, not per day. Fever looks great and works wonderfully on the iPhone. If people ask you what good web-based alternatives there are to Google Reader, Fever is a good place to start looking.
PubSubHubbub (and RSSCloud) are two feed formats for the real-time web. PubSubHubbub is method for pushing real-time updates from a publisher, to a hub and then to all subscribed parties – immediately. RSSCloud is a similar technology that originated years ago as a part of the RSS spec. These are the protocols that a whole new era of user and developer experience on the web will be built on.
Superfeedr is a new service powering millions of real-time feeds. It’s a transformer, from lots of different formats into real-time feeds in PubSubHubbub or XMPP. It’s like FeedBurner for the real-time web.
Tweetdeck (and Seesmic) are the market’s leading stream readers. They are tools for reading and writing to Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and someday other social network streams. There are lots of innovative stream readers on the market, from the beautiful Skimmer to the Inspector-Gadget style Favit, but Tweetdeck is the clear market leader. It’s in a perpetual back-and-forth battle of the sweet features with Seesmic. Both are dramatically changing the way users experience the flowing social web.
just keeps getting smarter. This social media analytics service tracks distributed conversation regarding blogs and feeds and scores items based on the relative engagement of those conversations. The usefulness of this service just doesn’t stop and the company’s movement into large-publisher analytics and APIs this year should bode well for customers, developers and consumers. Postrank is the only service on this list that was also on 2008’s list.
ActivityStreams is a proposed standard way to markup user activity data in social networks. If everyone adopted the standard, then streams of data would be interoperable, we could see what friends on other networks were doing and we wouldn’t be locked-in to the big networks because little innovators could provide tools for conversation. So far Facebook, MySpace, Netflix, Sun Microsystems and more are working hard at making this a reality. 2009 was a big year for ActivityStreams, right down to last week’s announcement that a feed normalization API was released by startup Cliqset.
The Breaking News Online iPhone App is the best remnant of a fabulous story that’s changed dramatically in recent weeks. BNO is a news organization that’s so fast in breaking news from around the world that the Red Cross watches them for disaster news and MSNBC syndicates their stories. Unfortunately, the company owned by now 19 year old Michael van Poppel sold control over its wildly popular Twitter account to MSNBC this Winter, but the iPhone app remains a very valuable resource. BNO’s research and original reporting is definitely one of the biggest stories in syndication of 2009 and its iPhone app is a must-have.