Getting OPML

So, true confessions: it took me a while, even with Dave and other true believers as fellows at the Berkman Center and us hosting the RSS 2.0 spec, to “get” RSS and why it was going to be (and now, already is) so powerful.

I’ve been going through the same slightly slow process to “get” OPML.  The promise seems obvious enough, but I haven’t yet had an epiphany around it.  Dave’s back in Cambridge this week, and I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with him a fair amount (including lunch with 6 Harvard College students earlier today, the usual fun romp through a series of topics), and I figured maybe I’d work on getting OPML this time. 

Five minutes ago, I had my a-ha moment on OPML.  The best expression I’ve ever seen of its power is the rendering of the OPML file of all the Top10 Sources reading lists that we’ve been compiling (on a non-Harvard project).  Dave’s got it linked now from Scripting News here.  It’s such a dynamic and striking way to organize knowledge.  There’s a critical mass issue to work out, but even with the 150 or so Top10 sites, plus the 1500 or so sources, and down to the most recent posts from those sources, it’s an amazing way to organize citizen-generated (or MSM-generated) information. 

Wow.  I have more to learn, but this was a good day for getting into this technology.  Now imagine if we got all our course syllabi, course PowerPoints, lists of sources reached by journalists, etc. into this format…  Imagine connecting it all up, either in an open-to-the-world kind of way or even a within-the-corporate-firewall kind of way…

(Disclosure: Top10 Sources and various experiments underway with RSS Labs, part of Newsilike Media Group, in which I hold an equity interest, are working on OPML-related developments.)