Why is Ask Yahoo! RSS interesting? I’m reminded of how far the architecture of Web Personalization has advanced.

To build the Ask Yahoo! module in My Yahoo, just a couple years ago, required (in simplified, not revealing too much manner) ..

  1. Engineers, producers, and surfers, from My Yahoo and Editorial, meeting, and deciding to do it.
  2. Ask Yahoo engineer creating a process to feed the content to My Yahoo, via email. Basically a file containing a <table> of content.
  3. My Yahoo feed engineer created email address, directories, and updating various configuration files. This was fed to numerous production machines through a specialized client/server.
  4. My Yahoo engineer created the module, by editing various configuration files and perl code, check-in to source control, push to production machines, and restart of various processes.

Of course, we worked hard on improving this process — and today this yahoo module could be created by non-technical folks through a simplified web-based tool set. Offset, I guess, from beauracratic process to build business cases for each new feature.

Yet now, to offer this content to anyone, yahoo user or otherwise, it only required the creation of one RSS file. A vastly improved architecture (yet, Even with recent improvements, like etag supports, the many-to-many system of RSS aggregation will hit its limits. Look for more intemediaries soon…)! This is why my Personalization interest shifted from MyYahoo to RSS aggregation.

  1. Anyone can contribute content – not just those companies contracted with Yahoo
  2. It doesn’t require complicated, highly scalable, systems to gather , configure, and view content.
  3. Anyone can read the content – not just those using MyYahoo software.

Getting Company News into MyYahoo was a very hefty process — easily solved by RSS, yet pulled, for lack of a business case. Yahoo! Travel is stalling for same reasons. Many are familiar with Yahoo Groups RSS feeds, implemented prior to Yahoo purchasing eGroups … yet My Yahoo has been unable (or unresourced) to find a personalization solution.

Some of MyYahoo’s personalization features are still unrivaled — stock portfolios, tv and movie listings, evites, mail, calendar, among a bounty of cool features — that is until the semantic web, web services, smart aggregators and digital dashboards, community and communication tools, rumble into mass consiousness.