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, written by Jeremy. Read the commentary.

Eric Schwartzman recently interviewed Doc Searls.  In the chat, Doc talked about the ways he uses RSS.  Listening to that conversation I finally understood the tremendous power of RSS functionality.

Until now I’ve just used RSS to keep me up to speed on the many blogs I frequent.  Any new post shows up in my aggregator and I don’t  wander through all the various sites that haven’t been updated.  Doc’s changed that.

In the interview, Doc explained how he uses Technorati, PubSub, Icerocket, Google blog search, and Feedster to track conversations.  He made a distinction between what he calls the “live web” and the rest of the web.  Where the regular web is made of static, architected web sites the live web is an organismic, dynamic environment made up of constantly changing publications like blogs and podcasts.

None of that stood out for me.  But his explanation of how he aggressively subscribes to topic searches did.  He called it “watching the river of fresh posts”.  That phrase alone let me see how widely I had missed the importance of RSS.  Instead of watching single conversations roll out on blogs, I can listen to all conversations.   Moving past favorite bloggers, I can watch favorite ideas.

I bet it’s obvious to everyone else but for me it was a revelation. Ever been in a room with seven really cool conversations happening at once?  Ever struggled in vain to both track your own conversation and hear the other ones around you too?  RSS lets you do that without looking like a fop. Even better, it lets you listen to every conversation … everywhere.

Doc likens it to drinking from a firehose, only you get to make your own firehose.  I’d suggest it’s more like drinking from the municipal supply, only you get to pick your watershed.

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It’s obvious to everyone but you and ME. Your revelation was mine as well. Doc Searls has a knack for catalyzing a-ha discoveries like that one. Thanks for listening to my podcast.