If there is any one Web technology that seems to have more death certificates written for it than any other, it has to be RSS (Real Simple Syndication). For a reason that is completely beyond me, people seem to be on the verge of giddy to write how every little thing that happens around the technology points to its demise, but yet, it’s still here.
For those of you unfamiliar with the technology, RSS allows you to subscribe to a websites content and have it delivered to a client program such as Google Reader. By doing this it keeps you from having to visit a page multiple times through out a day to see if there is anything new to read, saving yourself a tremendous amount of time if you follow a lot of sites. (i.e. a tech blogger’s job would be nearly impossible without this tool) There are two types of feeds, full feed and headline feeds where the former gives you the entire article and the latter gives you a headline and brief description which at least lets you know if you are interested in the story.
For whatever reason, headlines pop up every few months declaring that RSS is dead. This time it was around the news that a popular RSS reader named Bloglines is shutting down. Articles, such as one at paidContent, immediately started popping up saying that RSS is that much closer to death. What they usually point to being as the cause of death is the sharing of content on sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Apparently people are turning to these sites more and more as their main sources of news, and I personally can’t imagine a worse possible way of consuming information.
While I do take an interest in reading some of the stories my social connections share, it is too random to ever be considered a serious news source as people only share what is of interest to them. While I am sure my taste overlaps with some of my closest friends, I know that not everything that I am into is of interest to them. For instance, I follow a lot of news about Japan and its culture, but none of my friends do, so I have several RSS feeds for sites that I follow on those subjects. If I was to give up on RSS I would lose that news because I have never seen any of my friends and followers share anything related to those topics that wasn’t a re-share of something I put out there first.
I honestly can’t imagine a worse thing to rely on for news as you are essentially asking you friends to act as editors for the news you consume. With RSS I control the information flow, and while it’s true every site has its own editors (yes, that would be me), by subscribing to multiple sites on the same topic I am able to get something close to resembling the full picture.
For me, RSS is a long ways off from dying, I just wish my peers would stop so obviously drooling over the concept for whatever reasons it is that drives them.
What say you? Do you use RSS, or do you strictly rely on the Facebook/Twitter system for your information?