OPML Stands the Test of Time

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Twentieth Century Transportation, E.S. Yates, des. Chi.

As a part of our work with the Open Legal Blog Archive Project, we’re looking at State Bar Association Blogs. More specifically, a feed of the aggregated posts from state bar association blogs.

We wanted to see what the value of an aggregated feed of all the posts may be. Is there an opportunity to agggregate and syndicate the feeds in the form of an online syndication journal ala Illinois Lawyer Now.

Once we created the list of the state bar RSS feeds in Feedly, the list could be imported into an OPML file to be forwarded to other parties – me, included. We could get multiple eyes looking at the value of the aggregated feed.

I opened the OPML file in Feedly, which immediately created a folder for state bar association blogs and their posts in my Feedly. Presented an easy read of the titles and excerpts in an aggregated format.

I could easily see what an aggregated feed may look like in a syndication journal. Is the content good for mass consumption? Is the content too parochial for nationwide reading?

It was also cool that the same OPML file could be opened in a mind map application, in which the state bar association blogs and posts (the feed) could be displayed in a different format.

Why does this matter?

It’s evidence of how simple and open technology can stand the test of time in an extensible fashion. Extensible meaning, for me, the ability for a solution to be flexible, adaptable to different applications and be expanded in its use overtime.

In the case of legal blogs and the aggregation and syndication of blog posts, OPML may also play a role. It’s RSS that LexBlog uses in the aggregation and syndication of blogs and blog posts.

OPML has roots in blogs and RSS. OMPL (Outline Processor Markup Language) was originally developed by Userland which developed Radio UserLand, a software package released in 2000 which included not only a blogging tool but also an RSS aggregator, a key to successful blogging.

Though OPML has been adopted for other uses, its most most common adoption has been to exchange lists of RSS feeds between RSS feed aggregators. This is what we did with the state bar association feeds.

I believe it was 2005 when I saw Dave Winer, the founder of Userland, and the inventor of blogs and RSS, demonstrate OPML at a Gnomedex conference in Seattle.

Microsoft was giving away jackets at Gnomedex that said “Longhorn Loves RSS.” Longhorn was to be a new operating system and the endorsement of RSS, key to blogging, was a big deal – at least to this kid, who had just started a blogging company.

Solid solutions in RSS and OPML – thanks Dave Winer – which have stood the test of time and are playing a key role in the archival and syndication of secondary law (legal blogs).

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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