A killer app for RSS

Some feedback on yesterday's trial balloon:

Jon Udell wants to put RDF into RSS. I'm not sure if it's a good idea (it's certainly ugly) - wouldn't it be better to rewrite the RDF to fit the RSS format, and keep a separate RDF feed for the pure data? [HubLog]

Actually, I'm not saying that I want to put RDF into RSS. I'm trying to ask and answer two questions: 1) Is it feasible? and 2) What benefits would it confer?

Here's Scott Reynen's reaction to the trial balloon:

I don't really understand a lot of things about his example, and many of his answers to questions posted in the comments reveal that he doesn't either. [randomchaos]

It's true. Until somebody proves otherwise, my gut feeling is that the combination of RSS 2.0 and a job-related namespace is the sweet spot. I wouldn't want to close the door on RDF, because where there's smoke there may be fire, and a lot of smart people are smoking RDF. Hence yesterday's exploration of the idea that RDF can intermix with non-RDF XML vocabularies. Dan Brickley says he's leaning toward the position that such mixtures can work. Great! I'll look forward to seeing what results may come from that approach.

(Update: From yesterday's comments, Shelley Powers: "At no point did Dan mention that you can throw RDF and plain-vanilla XML together and have it 'work'." Fair enough. I know it's not that simple.)

Meanwhile, setting aside RDF for the moment, why don't the various job-related RSS applications deliver basic metadata (salary, location) in a format that can be parsed sanely? And why don't we yet see any RSS readers being extended to make use of such metadata?

I submit that all the ingredients are in place. Job sites exist, and they do deliver metadata (albeit screen-scraping is required to recover it in useful form). RSS 2.0 feeds can be extended to include job-related metadata. RSS readers can be extended to do useful things with that metadata -- filtering, prioritizing. Sounds like a killer app to me, and one that could finally prove the point that RSS is really a generalized system for delivering payloads of structured data. So what's the holdup? Scott Reynen again:

I started wondering if there isn't already a namespace dedicated to job posts that could simply be put inside an RSS feed. sure enough, there are multiple XML formats for job posts. The first I found is only accessible through Google's cache anymore, and looks a bit verbose. But then I stumbled upon the HR-XML consortium, a high-price club including some big name companies, dedicated to developing XML formats for human resources (that's what they call us when they give us jobs). The irony here is that monster.com is paying tens of thousands of dollars to this consortium, and hasn't even implemented anything as useful as what I and rssjobs.com have for free just by scraping their pages. (Note to monster.com: give me that money, and i'll make you some XML feeds and write the software users would need to read them.)

Unfortunately, all of HR-XML's formats are geared towards being used by businesses rather than job seekers, and so don't include information any job seeker would probably want, such as salary. So I'm just going to expand on Jon's very brief description what information a job post would include. [ed: FYI: That's not my description, it comes from Dan Brickley's example.]

The only decent-looking XML format I found in all this was XML resume library, a project that will possibly open up some automated job matching possibilities once we get a job format established. [randomchaos]

Scott, my $0.02 is go for it. Use prior art, such as the XML resume library, if it makes sense. Define a simple RSS 2.0 module for job metadata. Deliver a job feed that's enriched with data in that module's namespace. Invite one or more RSS aggregators to support it. It would be a win-win for everybody.

Former URL: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2003/08/06.html#a768