MAKE IT SIMPLE RSS
TechCrunch has a good overview of Yahoo!'s get together in San Francisco last night to announce new RSS feed and Alert options for it's upcoming Yahoo! Mail client, which remains in closed beta.
What seems mundane at first glance is actually a potentially very useful feature, not easily replicable by current RSS news readers. As TechCrunch explains:
"A post from any feed is treated exactly like an email - any post can be forwarded as an email or dragged into a folder and saved."
This is a potentially very cool feature, accelerating the ability to share and save posts with minimal fuss and friction. Yahoo!'s Scott Gatz has a good description and illustrations here on how it works.
The other part of the announcement has to do with Yahoo! Alerts:
"Yahoo users can now use Yahoo Alerts to be notified whenever RSS feeds update. Alerts, which include a summary of the updated content, can be configured to be sent via sms, email and/or messenger. This is a great way to monitor small groups of important feeds."
Again, a very useful thing to be able to do, especially for commercial news feeds and blogs that don't update that frequently, but where you'd like to be updated when they do.
Both these features are yet another way to "microchunk" blog posts and commercial news feeds. Add in payment features and you have a whole new way to enable content monetization. Again, echoes of VC Fred Wilson's post on what to do with content in Web 2.0: (microchunk it, free it, syndicate it and monetize it).
In some ways, Yahoo! is becoming the new AOL. By that I mean they're taking fairly geeky technologies like "RSS" and blending it into mainstream applications like email and alerts that mainstream audiences can put to use simply and productively.
Another example of this is how Yahoo! introduced tagging recently as part of it's "My Web 2.0" beta offering. Again, TechCrunch has a good overview of that service here.
As I said in a post recently:
"...it's not mainstream until your mom asks you for user name on this "really cool" service she's started to use..."
It remains to be seen if Yahoo!'s RSS charged emails and alerts will meet the test.