Sky News is going all BBC Backstage, inviting developers to do something clever with their XML feeds. The prize? – tour of the studios, meet the talent, share the £10,000 prize pot. See the Facebook group for details and feed URLs. I’m not sure whether this is an inspired piece of ‘open sourcing’, or an attempt to get some design and development work done on the cheap. Knowing Sky, possibly the latter: you wouldn’t get much built for £10k, let alone an indeterminately sized share thereof.
Inviting people to look at your feeds is a risk: even after a quick scan myself, I’ve spotted a few oddities. Why deliver the title as CDATA? Why the empty enclosure field? Why not actually enclose the story images? Why make it so horrible to hack the various URLs? (OK, I know the answer to that last one: Vignette.) Etc etc.
But it does point to one crucial fact: if you’ve got good RSS, you can virtually rebuild your entire website around it. Web services don’t necessarily have to be any more difficult.