in Ontario, Startups, Toronto

onaswarm – Lifestreaming in groups

In the world of RSS, and with users creating more of the actual content that popular sites are reselling to other users, we all start to create little islands of stuff out there on different sites, and rarely do we get the chance to pull it all together.

I create a lot of my own stuff. I twitter, create seesmic videos, have a facebook profile, have a blog, this blog, and post on another blog, I use, and so on. It gets hard, or impossible, to serve all of this content up to someone else in a meaningful way. On their own, each tidbit I leave on a site can often lack context, but aggregated together, the lifestream starts to tell a story.

onaswarm.pngOnaswarm is a new release from David Janes, based in Toronto, Ontario, that is one of the first movers in the personal aggregation space. There are others, such as friendfeed, but everyone in the market so far is early to the game.

RSS is a real market, and you have to think of it that way.

To some people RSS is at best just a file format, the vast majority of people don’t even have a clue what it is, but to a few, RSS is a market that is in a lot of pain right now. A market can be defined as “The opportunity to buy or sell; extent of demand for merchandise” and we are seeing that there is increasing demand for products and services which make RSS more useful and consumable to end users and businesses. In the same way that AideRSS and Feedburner have provided specific and useful tools to their target markets, there are subsets of the RSS market that remain open to a lifestreaming player.

The Consumer Market

Whoever gets the consumer side of the RSS market right is going to do pretty well. You only have to look at any set of internet usage estimates to get an idea of just how much consuming people are doing. An aggregator that can help people pull in all the content they are leaving all over the place will have a lot of opportunities. As each individual gets more accustomed to creating, and then reading content created by other amateurs, the need to have an adequate aggregation toolset will become more and more real.

The Enterprise Market

Standards like RSS are becoming prevalent in enterprise software and as more enterprise software platforms start to produce RSS feeds, there is going to be significant demand for aggregators which bring together feeds in unique and productive ways. There is a need to centralize feeds from tools like Sharepoint, Lotus Notes, and Wikis. Perhaps even email.

Innovative, Still not Pretty

Onaswarm has by far the best model for combining all manner of feeds in a reasonable and intuitive way. By reducing redundant information and filtering regularly recurring types of information Onaswarm becomes useful beyond a plain vanilla aggregator. Even better, Onaswarm allows groups of people to loosely combine all of their feeds and then slowly acts as a defacto social network. This is the Toronto Swarm, which gives you a reading of what is happening in Toronto’s tech scene.

The one downside to Onaswarm is that it really needs a decent UI overhaul. Things feel a little disjointed and a bit ugly. I am not the only one who feels that way, and I am pretty sure the guys at Onaswarm know it is something they are going to have to tackle.

Until their business model becomes more apparent (I am sure they have one, but are choosing to more generally test and prove the product before they really go to market), it will be hard to know if Onaswarm will be a winner or follower in the Lifestreaming space and RSS aggregator market. I think they are currently the best out there, in spite of the aforementioned need to fix up the UI. While it is not yet clear how quickly the market will or will not mature, the space should ultimately prove lucrative.

Contact David Janes from Blogmatrix.