Annoyingly hard to aggregate!

Just looking at how I could integrate my last.fm recently played tracks feed on my site, and it turns out I’ll have to parse rss (with some rdf thrown in), transform it to html, cache it on my server and then include that snipped on my page. I fully understand why few bloggers do this — it’s simply too complicated!

The easiest way to include stuff on a page is probably by using javascript, but few sites provide feeds and even if they do, it’s a far from optimal technique as your site will build up gradually when content is loading (and it won’t be very accessible either…). And now the rumors has it that IE7 will prohibit all kinds of cross-domain scripting, which effectively will kill much of the really interesting content syndication taking place on the web now…

So what we need, as my friend Adam argues, is a simple standard for seamlessly including stuff on a web page. I propose XML Inclusions, with standard http headers for smart content caching (e.g. “304 Not Modified”). Some smart, transparent proxy system would still be needed for high traffic sites — that, of course, is still the harder problem.

With this, I could include whichever feed I wanted to with one line of code. Just think of how many millions of people who would start aggregating stuff…