Beer Is Never Off-Topic: The Case for RSS, Part 1


My Personal Favorite
My Personal Favorite from DFH

A Perl Mongers tradition is that beer is never off-topic, but here’s a case where sudsy pleasure and geeky relevance collide.  I subscribe to Beer Advocate’s RSS feed and came across a particularly useful post:

Dogfish Head 2009 Beer Release Schedule – BeerAdvocate

Dogfish Head is a great craft brewer, and their brewpub in Gaithersburg is something I miss about working in Rockville, MD. Philly Beer Week (soon, soon) is the only time I’m tied into the beer scene enough to get news like this directly.  That’s why feeds from places like Beer Advocate and Joe Six Pack are so useful; the news comes to me rather than me having to go out and get it.  I hope DFH will follow my suggestion and publish their site’s news items as a feed, including posts about the schedule and as each beer becomes available.

UPDATE: Mariah from Dogfish tells me that RSS is already in the works. Please follow them on Twitter at dogfishbeer.  Also note that Twitter and RSS have common benefits and potential synergies to be discussed later.

I’m always championing RSS as TiVo for the Internet.  Living without RSS now is as unthinkable as no cash machines or using a regular mobile phone.  Go to one place (Google Reader for me because it spans all of my devices) and everything is there waiting for me.  Think of it as a custom-built newspaper if you’re so Luddite that you’re wondering what TiVo is.

The core idea here is familiar to OOP geeks:  The Observer Pattern.  It defines “a one-to-many dependency between objects so that when one object changes state, all its dependents are notified and updated automatically” (Design Patterns, Gof4).  While RSS mechanics are a little different than the traditional implementation of the pattern, the intent is the same:  One things changes, and many (only the interested, not necessarily all) know about it.

Companies can use RSS to deal with communication issues like email overload and collaboration site proliferation.  This isn’t a silver bullet to replace these technologies, but it can tame otherwise unruly beasts.  In subsequent posts I’m going to talk about using RSS as publisher, as subscriber, and then dive deeper into how RSS can make for a better communication architecture.

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