RSS & Tagging At Amazon

I found this interesting little tidbit in TechCrunch this morning, an interesting combination of search, tagging and RSS at Amazon.

Basically Amazon is using tagging to generate custom feeds which users can subscribe to. There is a lot of flexibility in how you can create these feeds, you can either use predefined tags or create your own, and Amazon will offer widgets to process and display those feeds.

While I suspect that most people will use predefined tags, I really like the option to create your own to track a very specific group of products. I also suspect that there will be lots of custom widgets created which will leverage those feeds.

Like one of the comments made on the site, what took them so long?

There are a few “greater pictures” here:

The first one is that RSS is used, a credit to its flexibility (it was never explicitely designed for this) and ubiquity (Amazon is a consumer site), one could almost say that you ignore RSS at your peril.

Another is an acknowledgement that the browser is no longer the main method by which consumers access information on the internet, but one of a range of methods.

And another is the use of tagging as an alternative to just plain search to narrow down the results to relevant ones only. Amazon could have just offered search results as an RSS feed, but using tagging enables much better control over the search results.

I don’t think there will be a single defining moment (a “tipping point”) where RSS switches from being a “techie” technology to a “consumer” technology, it is more likely that there will be a number of them and this will probably be one of them.


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