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The Truth About RSS

I really appreciate these three postings. RSS is not dying or even seriously ill. And I am not saying that because I am an RSS addict (grin). Anyway, check out these perspectives, they’re more eloquent than me:

The Truth About RSS: It’s Not “Dying” — Normal People Never Used It In The First Place
by Dan Frommer

“Seems like it’s that time of the year again, when people pile on about the supposed death of RSS. It’s dead, it’s not, wahh, etc.

Here’s the truth about RSS.

It’s a fine back-end technology.

It’s great for syndicating content from one place to another.

It’s nice for fetching headlines, or for powering pretty tools like Flipboard.

And sure, it’s helpful for media- and tech nerd-types who want to skim through hundreds or thousands of headlines and blog posts at a time. (Many have moved to Twitter for that. But those automated Twitter feeds are often powered by RSS. Whatever.)

But reading news by RSS reader just isn’t mainstream, has never been, and probably will never be.

Hitwise tells us that Google Reader, the top RSS reader, got about 700,000 visits in the U.S. last week. Comscore tells us that Google Reader got about 1.4 million U.S. visitors in November. Those stats are nothing to sneeze at, but it’s just not that many people using Google Reader, compared to the web visits for mainstream news sites like or Yahoo News.

RSS (“really simple syndication”) isn’t going away as a syndication technology. But plain-old RSS readers just have never been a massive, mainstream tool for directly consuming news, or delivering ads. And there’s no reason to believe that will change.”

Read more:

In defense of RSS
by Seth Godin

“Lots of buzz today about RSS (dying or not dying).

Seth says it works for him because:
“1. It’s not particularly difficult to keep up with 200 blogs you care about in less than hour using an RSS reader.
2. RSS provides home delivery. Instead of remembering where to click, or waiting for a post to get all buzzy and hot, the good stuff comes to you. Automatically and free.
3. Subscribing to a blog is easy. Just click here for my blog, for example. In Newsfire, you can paste the URL of any blog and it automatically finds the RSS feed for you.
RSS is quiet and fast and professional and largely hype-free. Perhaps that’s why it’s not the flavor of the day.”

RSS Is Dying Being Ignored, and You Should Be Very Worried

“If RSS dies, we lose the ability to read in private.”

“We lose the ability for one website we read to not know what other websites we read

We lose the ability for a website operator to be in control of what he advertise to his users, rather than having no control over the aggregator’s “value add”. If Facebook, Twitter and Google are the ones making the money on adverts attached to another website’s content, then where does that leave the website owner to pay for producing the content?

We lose the ability for websites to push updates to us on their own terms and infrastructure, rather than through closed APIs and flavour-of-the-month platforms. A website should be free to operate on the web without the requirement of additional unwanted accounts that need to be updated and managed and adhered to. If every website on the web has to have a Facebook account in order to exist in practical terms, the web is dead—competition is dead

Every website should not look like a NASCAR advert for every sharing service in existence. One RSS button should do everything

We lose the ability for us to aggregate, mash-up and interpret news without having to go through a closed API that may change on a whim, or disagree with our particular usage

We lose a common standard by which content can be aggregated. A developer should not have to be fluent in Twitter, Facebook and a million different private APIs just to aggregate content from different websites you read.”

RSS works for me because it lets me efficiently (reasonably read tousands of blog postings across many market and information spheres and domains. I am an addict and that’s not a bad thing. There is nothing wrong with the odd tool being narrowly used by a small group of information specialists or experts. Not everything needs to delight and be adopted by the big consumer market. And this is one tool that librarians use very well to put stuff under the hood for ourselves and or users.

So, RSS is very important to libraries and our Internet and web experience. Let’s make sure we don’t forget or neglect it.



Posted on: January 6, 2011, 7:44 am Category: Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Thousands? Every Day? That’s more than a mild addiction. How do you even have time to post so many blog entries?

  2. I’ve set up new catalogue item alerts via blogs at Franksrton City Libraries with email and RSS options and have always been suprised to see that the RSS stats beat the email subs via about 10 to 1. So, some punters must like RSS.