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RSS: Another Killer App Contender?

“I could have had class. I could have been a contender. Instead of what I am, a bum”

In the July/August 2003 Technology Source, Mary Harrsch makes a claim (#623?) for RSS – The Next Killer App For Education.

As blogged by David and George, the slapping of “kller app” may be over the top, but it helps to spread the word a bit.. even if the author has completely neglected the RSS work happening right around here somewhere and up in the northern hintelands of Canada ;-)

The article does provide some nice general infor for those that have just stumbled across the term “RSS”, although I would say Stephan had not only written it much earlier but more clearly.

I like the idea of some scernarios in the article but they may not ring to close to home for many faculty. Even deployed into Blackboard or WebCT or a blog for students, RSS can allow instructors to free themelves of the thankless and time consuming chore of building together those long laundry lists of web site references (which go bad as the links die, or are not comprehensive), by simply identifying the sources of content of interest to them, and allow RSS to pump fresh content into their course material sites without them ever touching a line of code. And have it automatically updated all by itself.

Now that is something more killer app like for Education- not the technology itself, which is as old as Dave Winer, but the things we can do with it.

It is also a critical feature that with more and more content publishing RSS feeds, it will make for a richer offering to build very customized collections that can pull from a multiplicity of sources (the anti-library approach).

Finally, the notion of a killer app as:

a program that gives average people the capability to use technology to solve everyday problems and enrich their lives. E-mail was the first killer app. Its usefulness has been demonstrated clearly by its being embraced across the entire spectrum of computer users.

is full of things to take potshots at. Spam today has clearly changed that perception of email, and emails adoption was a great deal more gradual than the classic killer apps of VisiCalc, the 1984 Apple Mac, the graphic web browser, etc.

I am quibbling only because I can.

For our local take on this, see this December 2002 Visioning Forum we hosted with Carl Berger from University of Michigan, “Back to the Future: After WYSIWYG, What is the Next Killer App?”

Other supposed killer apps (there are thousands in Google-land) included:

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


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