Friday, October 07, 2005

RSS Messaging

A few days ago, I wanted to send a quick thank you to a friend. I opened up a new Firefox tab, clicked my email shortcut link, logged in, clicked compose, typed my friend's email address, entered "thank you" as the subject, a very brief thank you message in the body, and clicked "Send".

What I really wanted to do was type the following in my YubNub command field:

rss jsmith2005 hey thx for the tip! -sean

rss (a not-yet-created YubNub command) communicates with an RSS message server (not yet created, as far as I know) and posts my short message to my friend's personal RSS message feed. This example uses YubNub (because it's so sweet and simple to integrate with an exposed API) but other standard methods would work too (web app, desktop app, wireless app, etc.)

John Smith could set up his personal message feed to accept anonymous messages like the one above (my name is simply part of the message text, not a true identifier,) or could require some form of sender authentication. This would be done on the sender/server side. Jane Smith would choose a feed name which she could make public or tell only to her friends and associates.

Personal RSS feeds might be easy to abuse. A bot could flood a public message feed with spam quite easily. If John Smith so chooses, he could require a form of password to send him RSS messages:

rss jsmith2005:kyoto hey thx for the tip! -sean

If the password is missing, the message would be dropped or forwarded to Jane Smith's spam message feed.

Why waste an email on "hey thx for the tip!" I certainly don't want to.


Justin Lilly said...

Doesn't instant messenger do the same thing? I know ICQ offers the ability to send IMs in a message form if and when the person is not online. Also, the jabber protocol would be much easier to do this with since its already an open source IM format and whatnot.

Sean O'Hagan said...

Hi Justin,

You're absolutely right. I'm just trying to think of novel ways to use my RSS reader. I'm not a big fan of instant messaging, but I monitor my Bloglines feeds a lot. It'd be kinda cool if I got personal messages through there as well.

shantanu said...

This is very cool concept and already (partially) implemented.

Typing the following command will send an email to mailinator account.

compose -to -subject Thanks -body Thanks for the tip!

You can access the rss feed of the email from

emailing directly without using any client (as suggested by you) is a nice idea though.

Sean O'Hagan said...

shantanu, that's pretty cool. That's the first I'd heard of mailinator - interesting concept.

If you have a website with PHP (or some other scripting facility) available on the back-end, you could set up a simple script which accepts a few arguments (To, Subject, Body, maybe Subject could be optional) and then create a YubNub command which sends the parameters directly to this script, which then emails mailinator.

Just some thoughts, but this idea deserves some more fleshing out.

Thanks for the comment.