I spent today at a conference, speaking and listening. The best listening was to a guy named Dave Morse, who helps run a big chunk of network behind a particularly thick firewall. He’s saving time and money big-time using syndication and he can prove it.
Dave’s webspace has quite a few sources and really information-hungry customers. Recently, he managed to pull a bunch of RSS feeds out of three of his big information sources. He spread the word, and in the first four weeks he saw the feeds fetched 23, 674, 473, and 1274 times. The numbers for four early months were 4475, 7545, 8531, 6994, and 11832.
He ran a survey of the users; they reported saving 45 minutes/day on average and are beating his doors down to RSS-i-fy everything. His slide on this had pictures of some crack cocaine and the little orange XML graphic.
He’s also got users with connectivity issues; both bandwidth and latency. They really like the fact that fetching the HTML version of this data costs 108K (without any stylesheets or graphics), while the average RSS feed is 56.21 bytes (because a lot of them are no-change 304’s). The way he put it like this: my customers can check for updates every 2.5 minutes all day long and still use less bandwidth than fetching the Web page once.
Oh Yes, Another Blog App · A Department of Defense IT type at the conference told me this story. The D.O.D. has what I’d call Network Operation Centers (they have their own jargon); 24/7 places where they gather communications and monitor situations and have big maps on the wall and officers in charge. These places run in shifts, and the procedures require that each shift keep a shift log, among other things to help hand-over to the next incoming shift.
When there’s not actually a war on, these logs are pretty tedious and relatively content-free. But in the first half of 2003, when there was a war on, a couple of these places tried doing the shift log as a blog (hmm... “slog”). Anyhow, this turned out to be immensely more useful than the traditional way of doing it, and since it was on the Web, became a really popular resource for people who needed to get a raw first-hand look at how their piece of the war was going.