Newsflash: 98% don’t use RSS

Dead 2.0 reminds us that the cup is way empty when it comes to RSS knowledge or usage.

Hmmm. The thing is back in 2000 it was “.0000001%.”
In 2006 it is “2%.”

That’s pretty sizeable growth. And the doubling effect continues.

Next year IE 7 ships with an RSS aggregator. Last week Maryam started using RSS for the first time.

Remember the old saw? Would you rather have $100,000 today or a penny doubled every day for a month?

I can hang out and watch the doubling effect.

Why is RSS usage going to continue to double? Influencers are doing it. As long as the cool kids who go to FOOcamp keep using RSS the rest of us will start catching on and doing it too. Just watch.

Where’s the business opportunity? Well, if the doubling effect continues, let’s meet back here again in 2010 and compare who won and lost this game.

Every new technology has been derided this way. Remember when Ken Olsen, CEO of DEC, said “there is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home?”*

That’s the same sentiment that’s coming up here. On the other hand, if everyone instantly “got it” there wouldn’t be any business opportunity, would there?

*Yes, I realize Ken was quoted out of context back in 1977, the Snopes article that quote links to explains how that happened. Still, I’ve heard this over and over again throughout my career. It’s why big companies miss small things that then later go on to be important.

Comments

  1. Come on Robert! You quote Ken Olsen and then add a note saying that you KNOW that the quote was taken out of context! Gimme a break. I was at DEC (Digital) back then… The reality is that DEC was a pioneer in the “Personal Data Processing” (PDP) business from the early 60′s and we had a large presence in time sharing as well as home computing. In fact, Olsen and vast numbers of other DEC employees had computers, or access to computers via modems, in their homes starting from about 1980 on if only to connect to the corporate email system. Digital was, in fact, probably the most wired of any corporation in the world until everyone else started to catch up in the early 90′s. If you pay attention to what Ken Olsen *meant* instead of just his exact words, you’ll come to understand that he was 98% correct. Even today, we don’t have much of an application for “computers in the home” in the sense that he meant it.

    bob wyman

  2. Come on Robert! You quote Ken Olsen and then add a note saying that you KNOW that the quote was taken out of context! Gimme a break. I was at DEC (Digital) back then… The reality is that DEC was a pioneer in the “Personal Data Processing” (PDP) business from the early 60′s and we had a large presence in time sharing as well as home computing. In fact, Olsen and vast numbers of other DEC employees had computers, or access to computers via modems, in their homes starting from about 1980 on if only to connect to the corporate email system. Digital was, in fact, probably the most wired of any corporation in the world until everyone else started to catch up in the early 90′s. If you pay attention to what Ken Olsen *meant* instead of just his exact words, you’ll come to understand that he was 98% correct. Even today, we don’t have much of an application for “computers in the home” in the sense that he meant it.

    bob wyman

  3. I blog by night, but by day I am a CPA. I have a hard time getting my co-workers to understand what a blog is, even after calling mine up on the screen and making them sit down and read it.

    Lately I have been gung-ho about RSS feeds and how could simplify their lives if they would JUST. TRY THEM.

    Response? “I am too busy to learn something new” or “I like to sit down and read the accounting journal.” (yawn)

    Why do I bother?

  4. I blog by night, but by day I am a CPA. I have a hard time getting my co-workers to understand what a blog is, even after calling mine up on the screen and making them sit down and read it.

    Lately I have been gung-ho about RSS feeds and how could simplify their lives if they would JUST. TRY THEM.

    Response? “I am too busy to learn something new” or “I like to sit down and read the accounting journal.” (yawn)

    Why do I bother?

  5. This is probably the only area in which I disagree with Dead 2.0 although I do miss manually browsing blogs but the time saved factor more than makes up for this.

  6. This is probably the only area in which I disagree with Dead 2.0 although I do miss manually browsing blogs but the time saved factor more than makes up for this.

  7. To be more precise, it seems that large companies recognize the opportunities, they just often mismanage it. 2 examples:

    DEC itself built small PCs and laptops. (I still have my 486 Digital HiNote.) A really nice tiny notebook. But, DEC just mismanaged their entrance into PCs.

    IBM – Heck, the IBM PC (introduced 25 years ago this month) built a $500B market (if you count up the stock values of companies that benefit from the PC) but was a victim of their own marketing strategy!

    My view is that there are smart people in big companies, and they clearly understand trends that may/will become important. They just often fail to fully turn the opportunity into significant market share.

    (picture of the HiNote: http://www.wastenotnewton.com/exchange/photos/newton/22418_96919_1Dec_Laptop_for_ad.jpg)

  8. To be more precise, it seems that large companies recognize the opportunities, they just often mismanage it. 2 examples:

    DEC itself built small PCs and laptops. (I still have my 486 Digital HiNote.) A really nice tiny notebook. But, DEC just mismanaged their entrance into PCs.

    IBM – Heck, the IBM PC (introduced 25 years ago this month) built a $500B market (if you count up the stock values of companies that benefit from the PC) but was a victim of their own marketing strategy!

    My view is that there are smart people in big companies, and they clearly understand trends that may/will become important. They just often fail to fully turn the opportunity into significant market share.

    (picture of the HiNote: http://www.wastenotnewton.com/exchange/photos/newton/22418_96919_1Dec_Laptop_for_ad.jpg)

  9. I’ve never been that sure that Olsen was quoted that out of context. I accept that he was talking about a science fiction scenario popular at the time but I think his actions during the late 70′s and early 80′s shows that he really had disdain for the idea of a computer for everyone. I don’t doubt that his family used computers but again, that doesn’t say that Ken Olsen envisioned everyone having one. He didn’t start correcting the historical record until well after DEC had lost out to the PC v. the Minicomputer.

    There is an interesting article here: http://www.cwhonors.org/archives/histories/OLSEN.pdf. It was recorded in 1988. Ken Olsen clearly does not see the end to the Minicomputer business even at this time in history:

    “We believe in PC’s. We encourage them. We network them. We use them in large numbers. But we still believe that most people in an organization want terminals. Terminals you don’t have to worry about data management, you don’t have to worry about floppy disks. You just sit down and it does the work for you automatically. So our most experienced, educated computer scientists and my secretary who has access and experience with everything, always want a terminal. It’s just so simple to use. There’s nothing there. And the secretary doesn’t want to take her hand off the keyboard and run a mouse, so the terminals we feel will always be important.”

    And this also shows a lack of vision right in the same discussion where he sees computers becoming so cheap that DEC would not be able to make money from them:

    “Now there’s an interesting mistake that people make, the press makes out of innocence. Six years ago they announced that the PC’s in an operation have enough computer power to replace the big machine. That turned out to be foolishness. Now they’re announcing that PC’s, that workstations networked together, have more power than a big computer, and they’ll replace the big computers. That’s nonsense too. They replaced some of the things big
    computers were doing because they can do the jobs, but they don’t replace the big ones because in any organization you have data that you cannot afford to lose under any circumstances. The last thing you’re going to do is have your key data in somebody’s workstation where somebody can mess it up. All the protection for precise data has to be separated in a place that can never be lost, never be damaged. And no way are you going to leave it out in the open on a small machine.”

    Finally there is this quote which I’m taking somewhat out of context but it seems to show the elitist nature of Ken Olsen’s thinking when it comes to “real” uses of computers:

    “From a technological point of view, I think we can be confident that computers are getting more powerful, and less expensive. [...] But what it means to the private citizen? It means that your automobile will run better, your house should run better, and it means that we can, little by little, get better service from all the things we struggle with today. And for the people who really have a use for the computers, they’ll do things a much more exciting way.”

  10. I’ve never been that sure that Olsen was quoted that out of context. I accept that he was talking about a science fiction scenario popular at the time but I think his actions during the late 70′s and early 80′s shows that he really had disdain for the idea of a computer for everyone. I don’t doubt that his family used computers but again, that doesn’t say that Ken Olsen envisioned everyone having one. He didn’t start correcting the historical record until well after DEC had lost out to the PC v. the Minicomputer.

    There is an interesting article here: http://www.cwhonors.org/archives/histories/OLSEN.pdf. It was recorded in 1988. Ken Olsen clearly does not see the end to the Minicomputer business even at this time in history:

    “We believe in PC’s. We encourage them. We network them. We use them in large numbers. But we still believe that most people in an organization want terminals. Terminals you don’t have to worry about data management, you don’t have to worry about floppy disks. You just sit down and it does the work for you automatically. So our most experienced, educated computer scientists and my secretary who has access and experience with everything, always want a terminal. It’s just so simple to use. There’s nothing there. And the secretary doesn’t want to take her hand off the keyboard and run a mouse, so the terminals we feel will always be important.”

    And this also shows a lack of vision right in the same discussion where he sees computers becoming so cheap that DEC would not be able to make money from them:

    “Now there’s an interesting mistake that people make, the press makes out of innocence. Six years ago they announced that the PC’s in an operation have enough computer power to replace the big machine. That turned out to be foolishness. Now they’re announcing that PC’s, that workstations networked together, have more power than a big computer, and they’ll replace the big computers. That’s nonsense too. They replaced some of the things big
    computers were doing because they can do the jobs, but they don’t replace the big ones because in any organization you have data that you cannot afford to lose under any circumstances. The last thing you’re going to do is have your key data in somebody’s workstation where somebody can mess it up. All the protection for precise data has to be separated in a place that can never be lost, never be damaged. And no way are you going to leave it out in the open on a small machine.”

    Finally there is this quote which I’m taking somewhat out of context but it seems to show the elitist nature of Ken Olsen’s thinking when it comes to “real” uses of computers:

    “From a technological point of view, I think we can be confident that computers are getting more powerful, and less expensive. [...] But what it means to the private citizen? It means that your automobile will run better, your house should run better, and it means that we can, little by little, get better service from all the things we struggle with today. And for the people who really have a use for the computers, they’ll do things a much more exciting way.”

  11. The way I explain RSS is, “Instead of visiting each of your favourite websites daily, you can see headlines/snippets from each one and decide if its worth your time”.

    But the problem I’ve found is, I’ve subscribe to so many feeds that any time-savings have probably been lost. I’m happy because I get to learn more but I’m addicted to following all the links about various discussions. It wastes so much time, I’m not so sure if I like it better.

    I need software to predict what’s most important hahah.

  12. The way I explain RSS is, “Instead of visiting each of your favourite websites daily, you can see headlines/snippets from each one and decide if its worth your time”.

    But the problem I’ve found is, I’ve subscribe to so many feeds that any time-savings have probably been lost. I’m happy because I get to learn more but I’m addicted to following all the links about various discussions. It wastes so much time, I’m not so sure if I like it better.

    I need software to predict what’s most important hahah.

  13. Why is RSS usage going to continue to double? Influencers are doing it. As long as the cool kids who go to FOOcamp keep using RSS the rest of us will start catching on and doing it too. Just watch.

    Oh please. The “Kewl Kidz” have nothing to do with it. You know what does?

    RSS no longer requiring a separate app. RSS in:

    FireFox
    IE
    Safari
    Outlook 2007
    Mail in Leopard
    Thunderbird

    It’s RSS being in the applications that people are already using in a useful way that is increasing its use, not the fact that Scoble and Friends get all squishy over it.

    I’ve known about RSS since Winer first started talking about it, but there was no way I was running another application just for that crap. As soon as it showed up in the applications I use? Now I use RSS.

    Dude, really, stop thinking that the BloggerKewlKidz matter outside of that “A-List” circle jerk, because they really don’t.

  14. Why is RSS usage going to continue to double? Influencers are doing it. As long as the cool kids who go to FOOcamp keep using RSS the rest of us will start catching on and doing it too. Just watch.

    Oh please. The “Kewl Kidz” have nothing to do with it. You know what does?

    RSS no longer requiring a separate app. RSS in:

    FireFox
    IE
    Safari
    Outlook 2007
    Mail in Leopard
    Thunderbird

    It’s RSS being in the applications that people are already using in a useful way that is increasing its use, not the fact that Scoble and Friends get all squishy over it.

    I’ve known about RSS since Winer first started talking about it, but there was no way I was running another application just for that crap. As soon as it showed up in the applications I use? Now I use RSS.

    Dude, really, stop thinking that the BloggerKewlKidz matter outside of that “A-List” circle jerk, because they really don’t.

  15. Pat – go re-read my post and tell me what you disagree with. My point is on EDUCATION and USE of the technology. I don’t advocate dumping RSS, I just don’t think it’s being well handled, and I think it’s contributing to the problem of people being afraid of tech.

    Robert – I must say, I don’t agree with your point on ‘influencers do it’ as the reason RSS will be successful. Frankly, RSS is just as problematic an experience as Web surfing and bookmarks are. I think John’s comments on it being properly integrated into other applications and Web sites that make the difference.

    Case in point – my.yahoo. Best home page (in my opinion), and full RSS integration, with almost NO ‘techie’ references anywhere. It might not be as Ajax-y as netvibes, but it’s one of the best customizable pages out there.

  16. Pat – go re-read my post and tell me what you disagree with. My point is on EDUCATION and USE of the technology. I don’t advocate dumping RSS, I just don’t think it’s being well handled, and I think it’s contributing to the problem of people being afraid of tech.

    Robert – I must say, I don’t agree with your point on ‘influencers do it’ as the reason RSS will be successful. Frankly, RSS is just as problematic an experience as Web surfing and bookmarks are. I think John’s comments on it being properly integrated into other applications and Web sites that make the difference.

    Case in point – my.yahoo. Best home page (in my opinion), and full RSS integration, with almost NO ‘techie’ references anywhere. It might not be as Ajax-y as netvibes, but it’s one of the best customizable pages out there.

  17. “But the problem I’ve found is, I’ve subscribe to so many feeds that any time-savings have probably been lost.” Totally agree. And RSS is semi-invisible; you don’t really NOTICE you’re using it (if you do it in your browser).

    The one I can’t figure out is instant messaging– does anybody actually us that in real life?

  18. “But the problem I’ve found is, I’ve subscribe to so many feeds that any time-savings have probably been lost.” Totally agree. And RSS is semi-invisible; you don’t really NOTICE you’re using it (if you do it in your browser).

    The one I can’t figure out is instant messaging– does anybody actually us that in real life?

  19. Interesting discussion ;-)
    —–
    ” The thing is back in 2000 it was “.0000001%.” In 2006 it is “2%.””
    —–
    Miniscule to micro in six years…big deal.

  20. Interesting discussion ;-)
    —–
    ” The thing is back in 2000 it was “.0000001%.” In 2006 it is “2%.””
    —–
    Miniscule to micro in six years…big deal.

  21. RSS inclusion in browsers and other apps accounts for increased “use”…but then so much eyeballs accounting going on there. RSS will remain a niche geek thing, heck RSS advocates can’t even decide upon which icon to use. Just bring back Pointcast, and 2006 it all up…

    A-List’ers playing up the elitist KeWL KiDDiEz geek theory…now there’s a surprise. ((Rolls Eyes)). But it’s all so much noise. It won’t matter…it’s just a result of what happens when your world revolves around staring bug-eyed at LCD screens all the live long day.

    Something taken that many years, with still dubious marketshare rates, only clinking in at 2% in the real world is a failure, if you look at it from the overall side, rather than the growth from 0% to 2%.

  22. RSS inclusion in browsers and other apps accounts for increased “use”…but then so much eyeballs accounting going on there. RSS will remain a niche geek thing, heck RSS advocates can’t even decide upon which icon to use. Just bring back Pointcast, and 2006 it all up…

    A-List’ers playing up the elitist KeWL KiDDiEz geek theory…now there’s a surprise. ((Rolls Eyes)). But it’s all so much noise. It won’t matter…it’s just a result of what happens when your world revolves around staring bug-eyed at LCD screens all the live long day.

    Something taken that many years, with still dubious marketshare rates, only clinking in at 2% in the real world is a failure, if you look at it from the overall side, rather than the growth from 0% to 2%.

  23. That’s understandable for Windows users, since until now there was no system-level RSS support. Most average users (non-power users) probably stick to standard applications so they most likely won’t have an RSS reader.

    The percentage of Mac users who use RSS is a lot higher, since several standard applications have RSS support built-in. Safari comes pre-configured with several RSS feed subscriptions and one of the screen savers displays RSS headlines. In Leopard, Mail can show RSS feeds as mailboxes.

  24. That’s understandable for Windows users, since until now there was no system-level RSS support. Most average users (non-power users) probably stick to standard applications so they most likely won’t have an RSS reader.

    The percentage of Mac users who use RSS is a lot higher, since several standard applications have RSS support built-in. Safari comes pre-configured with several RSS feed subscriptions and one of the screen savers displays RSS headlines. In Leopard, Mail can show RSS feeds as mailboxes.

  25. Robert,

    At 30 Boxes we have more than 30,000 rss feeds under management. And you know what, only a tiny % of people have actually added them. We make extensive use of rss for our users’ benefit — like a calendar feed reader but they don’t need to be tech savvy.

    I think you will see increasing use of data flow in this way.

  26. Robert,

    At 30 Boxes we have more than 30,000 rss feeds under management. And you know what, only a tiny % of people have actually added them. We make extensive use of rss for our users’ benefit — like a calendar feed reader but they don’t need to be tech savvy.

    I think you will see increasing use of data flow in this way.

  27. I think you are right. This will be another hockey stick effect at some point. Of course it will help a lot with IE7, Firefox 2.0, Windows Live, and Google home page.
    Also late adopters are creeping in. I work for a big Canadian Bank, and guess what … we talked the Investor Relations folks to deliver their news releases in rss. Sure it took 3 attempts over the last 2 years, and we had to make it idiot proof, but we are now implementing … post once to Vignette, and automatically create a web page, and a feed simultaneously.

  28. I think you are right. This will be another hockey stick effect at some point. Of course it will help a lot with IE7, Firefox 2.0, Windows Live, and Google home page.
    Also late adopters are creeping in. I work for a big Canadian Bank, and guess what … we talked the Investor Relations folks to deliver their news releases in rss. Sure it took 3 attempts over the last 2 years, and we had to make it idiot proof, but we are now implementing … post once to Vignette, and automatically create a web page, and a feed simultaneously.

  29. The first P in PDP was for Programmable not Personal.
    That being said, if Ken Olsen was wrong about people wanting terminals than the Google people are going down the wrong trail with their web based applications. All of this “thin client” and “web applications” stuff is just timesaharing wrapped in a different wrapper.

    I don’t think that the mass of people will take to RSS because the cool people use it. That is not why the Internet or personal computers took off. RSS will take off when there is a “killer app” (term used very loosely) that makes the rest of the world want or think they need RSS. Spreadsheets and good standalone word processing software are why PCs took off. Easy to use email and the graphical world wid web are why the Internet took off just as much as inexpensive access (ISPs). It was not because of the kool kids.
    The pace setters and early adopters have influence but I think they can be given too much credit. But what do I know I was horribley late to the Internet and didn’t get involved in it until the early 1980s. Computers a little earlier (1973) but was still late to the game. I’m a trailing indicator.

  30. The first P in PDP was for Programmable not Personal.
    That being said, if Ken Olsen was wrong about people wanting terminals than the Google people are going down the wrong trail with their web based applications. All of this “thin client” and “web applications” stuff is just timesaharing wrapped in a different wrapper.

    I don’t think that the mass of people will take to RSS because the cool people use it. That is not why the Internet or personal computers took off. RSS will take off when there is a “killer app” (term used very loosely) that makes the rest of the world want or think they need RSS. Spreadsheets and good standalone word processing software are why PCs took off. Easy to use email and the graphical world wid web are why the Internet took off just as much as inexpensive access (ISPs). It was not because of the kool kids.
    The pace setters and early adopters have influence but I think they can be given too much credit. But what do I know I was horribley late to the Internet and didn’t get involved in it until the early 1980s. Computers a little earlier (1973) but was still late to the game. I’m a trailing indicator.

  31. When I show clients the Flock browser and what it does with OPML links (one click adds the feeds), and the Juice Podcast Receiver(one URI synchs all feeds), they get it.

    RSS has to be integrated ! OPML will help.

  32. When I show clients the Flock browser and what it does with OPML links (one click adds the feeds), and the Juice Podcast Receiver(one URI synchs all feeds), they get it.

    RSS has to be integrated ! OPML will help.

  33. Robert, you keep talking about the “small things”.
    You have half a point.
    True enough, the big things of today started as small things
    yesterday. However, it’s not true that all of yesterday’s
    small things grew up to be big. Knowing _which_ small
    things to pay attention to, is the hard part. (I sure don’t.)

  34. Robert, you keep talking about the “small things”.
    You have half a point.
    True enough, the big things of today started as small things
    yesterday. However, it’s not true that all of yesterday’s
    small things grew up to be big. Knowing _which_ small
    things to pay attention to, is the hard part. (I sure don’t.)

  35. Alfred (comment 17): I am, of course, aware that PDP formally stood for “Programmable Data Processor.” What I was trying to say is that the PDP-1 and following machines were the first that were cheap enough and small enough to be really “personal” machines.(i.e. machines for the use of only one or two engineers…) Thus, the PDP series can be given credited with having given a kick start to the era of “Personal Data Processing”…

    bob wyman

  36. Alfred (comment 17): I am, of course, aware that PDP formally stood for “Programmable Data Processor.” What I was trying to say is that the PDP-1 and following machines were the first that were cheap enough and small enough to be really “personal” machines.(i.e. machines for the use of only one or two engineers…) Thus, the PDP series can be given credited with having given a kick start to the era of “Personal Data Processing”…

    bob wyman

  37. “That being said, if Ken Olsen was wrong about people wanting terminals than the Google people are going down the wrong trail with their web based applications. All of this “thin client” and “web applications” stuff is just timesaharing wrapped in a different wrapper.”

    So far, people haven’t really wanted thin clients. Not in any real numbers. There are a few breakouts now but still nothing overwhelming. Google is trying again, but the jury is still out. Certainly Ken Olsen was wrong when he predicted that the terminal was never going away in business contexts. It may come back in a new form but it has been gone for many years. The last gasp was X-Terms. I haven’t seen one of those in 10 years.

  38. “That being said, if Ken Olsen was wrong about people wanting terminals than the Google people are going down the wrong trail with their web based applications. All of this “thin client” and “web applications” stuff is just timesaharing wrapped in a different wrapper.”

    So far, people haven’t really wanted thin clients. Not in any real numbers. There are a few breakouts now but still nothing overwhelming. Google is trying again, but the jury is still out. Certainly Ken Olsen was wrong when he predicted that the terminal was never going away in business contexts. It may come back in a new form but it has been gone for many years. The last gasp was X-Terms. I haven’t seen one of those in 10 years.

  39. James, go to a Nebraska Furniture Mart…Wyse WinTerms everywhere. Thin clients are rather popular in quite a few applications.

    The one I can’t figure out is instant messaging– does anybody actually us that in real life?

    I live on it. It’s at least as critical as email, and a much better tech support resource for me than email by a long shot.

  40. James, go to a Nebraska Furniture Mart…Wyse WinTerms everywhere. Thin clients are rather popular in quite a few applications.

    The one I can’t figure out is instant messaging– does anybody actually us that in real life?

    I live on it. It’s at least as critical as email, and a much better tech support resource for me than email by a long shot.

  41. James Bailey: When was the last time you saw a Linux or Unix box with a graphical interface that *wasn’t* X-Windows? How about all the Citrix use in corporations? It’s all terminal stuff. Yes, it may be that X Windows usually runs on a full-blown computer. However, if you went and looked at most IBM PC’s in corporations during the 80′s, you would see only two applications: 1) A spreadsheet 2) A terminal emulator (either VT100 or IBM 3270). Those early IBM PC’s were running as terminal emulators…. Today, many computers do the same — using X Windows, Citrix, or Web 2.0 Applications through the browser.

    bob wyman

  42. James Bailey: When was the last time you saw a Linux or Unix box with a graphical interface that *wasn’t* X-Windows? How about all the Citrix use in corporations? It’s all terminal stuff. Yes, it may be that X Windows usually runs on a full-blown computer. However, if you went and looked at most IBM PC’s in corporations during the 80′s, you would see only two applications: 1) A spreadsheet 2) A terminal emulator (either VT100 or IBM 3270). Those early IBM PC’s were running as terminal emulators…. Today, many computers do the same — using X Windows, Citrix, or Web 2.0 Applications through the browser.

    bob wyman

  43. RSS will be successful when no one except the geeks would know it. Right now there is no point in explaining “rss” or “feed” to my mom. Same way, 12 years ago, she didn’t give a damn about HTTP. But she started using a computer (and later hotmail) simply because she could start communicating with me and her grandson. If I tried to communicate her the power of HTTP and corporate firewalls and cross-platform portability of web pages, she still wouldn’t have bought a computer.

  44. RSS will be successful when no one except the geeks would know it. Right now there is no point in explaining “rss” or “feed” to my mom. Same way, 12 years ago, she didn’t give a damn about HTTP. But she started using a computer (and later hotmail) simply because she could start communicating with me and her grandson. If I tried to communicate her the power of HTTP and corporate firewalls and cross-platform portability of web pages, she still wouldn’t have bought a computer.

  45. Here’s an RSS usability anecdote from someone who is technically capable but ignorant of RSS: I expected RSS to be a lot like the old push tech (and I thought RSS was based on CDF), whereby a client periodically pings a server for updates such that the user is alerted to updated content & views it. What I found with IE7 was a unified stylesheet for viewing a 2nd set of Favorites. Maybe I’m misusing IE7, but as an aggregator, I didn’t really see the aggregation aspect of it. To me, it just looked like a way to make a bunch of different blogs look alike when I was expecting it to make it easier for me to see when my pool of blogs have updates that I haven’t read.

  46. Here’s an RSS usability anecdote from someone who is technically capable but ignorant of RSS: I expected RSS to be a lot like the old push tech (and I thought RSS was based on CDF), whereby a client periodically pings a server for updates such that the user is alerted to updated content & views it. What I found with IE7 was a unified stylesheet for viewing a 2nd set of Favorites. Maybe I’m misusing IE7, but as an aggregator, I didn’t really see the aggregation aspect of it. To me, it just looked like a way to make a bunch of different blogs look alike when I was expecting it to make it easier for me to see when my pool of blogs have updates that I haven’t read.

  47. I think RSS almost has to win. What’s the alternative? WS-Eventing? WS-Notification? The world needs some kind of simple publish and subscribe mechanism… something where a user can say, “Let me know when this changes.”

    There are lots of other examples of large companies missing the boat, you don’t have to pick on DEC. :-) Intel thought the microprocessor was a dumb idea, for example….

    I agree DEC didn’t really “get” the PC. The way I remember it, they were kind of late to the game, and their PCs were always sort of bizarrely incompatible with all other PCs. AND more expensive to boot. Sort of like Apple used to be. LOL

    Like Apple, they always had good-looking hardware. The front panel on a PDP-11/70… you know, back in the day, that seemed soooo futuristic… now where did I put my RSX-11M manual….

  48. I think RSS almost has to win. What’s the alternative? WS-Eventing? WS-Notification? The world needs some kind of simple publish and subscribe mechanism… something where a user can say, “Let me know when this changes.”

    There are lots of other examples of large companies missing the boat, you don’t have to pick on DEC. :-) Intel thought the microprocessor was a dumb idea, for example….

    I agree DEC didn’t really “get” the PC. The way I remember it, they were kind of late to the game, and their PCs were always sort of bizarrely incompatible with all other PCs. AND more expensive to boot. Sort of like Apple used to be. LOL

    Like Apple, they always had good-looking hardware. The front panel on a PDP-11/70… you know, back in the day, that seemed soooo futuristic… now where did I put my RSX-11M manual….

  49. I just turned my mother on to a feed reader two weeks ago, so I’m not surprised to hear that Maryam just started using them too. Though I agree with the continued doubling, I think there is going to be a hockey stick inflection point in the RSS adoption curve VERY soon.

  50. I just turned my mother on to a feed reader two weeks ago, so I’m not surprised to hear that Maryam just started using them too. Though I agree with the continued doubling, I think there is going to be a hockey stick inflection point in the RSS adoption curve VERY soon.

  51. I’m surprised the number is that low. You know what I think? It means there’s still a huge opportunity to introduce people to RSS and evangelize it. I was a bit of a late comer to RSS, and the more I use it, the more completely indispensible I find it.

  52. I’m surprised the number is that low. You know what I think? It means there’s still a huge opportunity to introduce people to RSS and evangelize it. I was a bit of a late comer to RSS, and the more I use it, the more completely indispensible I find it.

  53. With the release and adoption of the Microsoft Office Suite and other Office Server products such as SharePoint, RSS will begin to take off like email did several years ago. Corporate users (who aren’t tech people) will start to understand what the RSS icon is and what it does once they start using it in these and competing new products. With portals becoming a more common method of finding and creating data for internal corporate consumption, RSS will become much more important. I think it will become nearly as important as e-mail in the next 4 years. This will be especially true with the majority using Outlook and the new 2007 version incorporating an RSS reader out of the box.

  54. With the release and adoption of the Microsoft Office Suite and other Office Server products such as SharePoint, RSS will begin to take off like email did several years ago. Corporate users (who aren’t tech people) will start to understand what the RSS icon is and what it does once they start using it in these and competing new products. With portals becoming a more common method of finding and creating data for internal corporate consumption, RSS will become much more important. I think it will become nearly as important as e-mail in the next 4 years. This will be especially true with the majority using Outlook and the new 2007 version incorporating an RSS reader out of the box.

  55. RSS – Some Marketing required!

    Robert Scoble blogged about an article on Dead 2.0 belaboring the point that only 2% of users accessed content on the Internet via RSS. While it’s a fact that Soaring on Ridgelift has a distinguished readership, a majority of you

  56. @28. “Introduce people to RSS….”??? That is the WRONG strategy. That would be like me introducing my Mom to POP, IMAP, and SMTP so she could “get” email. Outside of the geeks and wanna-be Geeks in the blogosphere no one cares WHAT makes up the technology. Just show them why getting automagic updates to their favorite web sites might be a cool thing to have. On the other hand, go ahead, do the Jay Leno “man on the street” question about RSS and see how far you get.

    Geezus! It’s NOT about the technology.

  57. @28. “Introduce people to RSS….”??? That is the WRONG strategy. That would be like me introducing my Mom to POP, IMAP, and SMTP so she could “get” email. Outside of the geeks and wanna-be Geeks in the blogosphere no one cares WHAT makes up the technology. Just show them why getting automagic updates to their favorite web sites might be a cool thing to have. On the other hand, go ahead, do the Jay Leno “man on the street” question about RSS and see how far you get.

    Geezus! It’s NOT about the technology.

  58. “Where’s the business opportunity?”

    Still always thinking about the monies ;)
    Where’s the business opportunity in HTML? Oh, wait, you mean browsers are free? And so are RSS readers.

    (as a side note, all browsers suck at RSS. Get a dedicated RSS reader)

  59. “Where’s the business opportunity?”

    Still always thinking about the monies ;)
    Where’s the business opportunity in HTML? Oh, wait, you mean browsers are free? And so are RSS readers.

    (as a side note, all browsers suck at RSS. Get a dedicated RSS reader)

  60. I asked a guy I work with yesterday (cutting edge gaming company) if he had an interesting Feeds to share.

    Not only did he not know what they were, but couldn’t understand them.

    Even when I popped up bloglines his response was along the lines of ‘But why don’t you just go to each page?’

  61. I asked a guy I work with yesterday (cutting edge gaming company) if he had an interesting Feeds to share.

    Not only did he not know what they were, but couldn’t understand them.

    Even when I popped up bloglines his response was along the lines of ‘But why don’t you just go to each page?’

  62. I started a magazine called ‘The World Wide Web Newsletter’ in 1993 because I knew that this was important and I wanted to evangelise it. For the first few years, a lot of very clever people would dismiss my pitch with the line ‘Isn’t it just CB radio all over again’. Well, it probably took those clever people another couple of years to get it. But get it they did in the end.

  63. I started a magazine called ‘The World Wide Web Newsletter’ in 1993 because I knew that this was important and I wanted to evangelise it. For the first few years, a lot of very clever people would dismiss my pitch with the line ‘Isn’t it just CB radio all over again’. Well, it probably took those clever people another couple of years to get it. But get it they did in the end.

  64. The problem is that you don’t know if RSS is on the 14th day or the 30th. The “all the cool kids” argument doesn’t work – all the cool kids have been using Linux or Macs for years, and I don’t see the market shares of those products growing fast.

    RSS will grow, of course. Whether it will be a mass market product depends on the applications people build with it, not the technology itself. What you and others are forgetting is that RSS is an enabler, not a product.

  65. The problem is that you don’t know if RSS is on the 14th day or the 30th. The “all the cool kids” argument doesn’t work – all the cool kids have been using Linux or Macs for years, and I don’t see the market shares of those products growing fast.

    RSS will grow, of course. Whether it will be a mass market product depends on the applications people build with it, not the technology itself. What you and others are forgetting is that RSS is an enabler, not a product.

  66. [...] According to Dead 2.0 only 9% of US employess know what RSS is and just a mere 2% actually subscribe to RSS feeds. But as Robert Scoble points out back in 2000 it was .0000001%. In 2006 it’s 2%. Robert notes that his wife Maryam has started using RSS for the first time. Two weeks ago so did my father. “That’s pretty sizeable growth. And the doubling effect continues. [...]

  67. hi,
    I do have an aggregator account but never use it to go through blogs I like (I like only about 20 blogs or so)….so don’t really feel the need for an Aggregator. I put it all on the Blogroll and visit them out of my blog.

  68. hi,
    I do have an aggregator account but never use it to go through blogs I like (I like only about 20 blogs or so)….so don’t really feel the need for an Aggregator. I put it all on the Blogroll and visit them out of my blog.

  69. Why don’t 98% of people know about RSS?

    Scoble comments on the article on Dead 2.0 which claims that only 2% of people use RSS.
    I’d say many people don’t *need* to know what RSS (or a ‘feed’) is. They probably use it in places without knowing it.
    As more publishers sy…

  70. BTW, where is CB Radio today? Weren’t all the Kool Kidz using CB Radio at one time? Along with Betamax? Didn’t the “influencers” get all excited about that technology at one time? Wonder why they weren’t successful keeping it going. ;-)

  71. BTW, where is CB Radio today? Weren’t all the Kool Kidz using CB Radio at one time? Along with Betamax? Didn’t the “influencers” get all excited about that technology at one time? Wonder why they weren’t successful keeping it going. ;-)

  72. “But we still believe that most people in an organization want terminals. Terminals you don’t have to worry about data management, you don’t have to worry about floppy disks. You just sit down and it does the work for you automatically.” (Ken Olsen, I beleive)

    Wow! Now that someone gave a quote, I can truly appreciate the genius of Ken Olsen. He is right, we do NOT need _desktops_. They are nightmare to maintain, in both organizations and at home. We want terminals. The only thing he did not know is that the industry will decide to go the desktop route first before accepting the terminal concept.

    Of course, anyone can easily guess that our terminals today are web browsers. It is far from ideal. Web applications suffer from numerous limitations. But it is a step in the right direction. Also, Google makes a tremendious push to move all the data on the Internet from desktops and “terminalize” access.

    Anyway, it seems to happen quite often with great visions: they turn out to be correct, but with a delay from a couple of years to a couple of decades.

    Cramer

  73. “But we still believe that most people in an organization want terminals. Terminals you don’t have to worry about data management, you don’t have to worry about floppy disks. You just sit down and it does the work for you automatically.” (Ken Olsen, I beleive)

    Wow! Now that someone gave a quote, I can truly appreciate the genius of Ken Olsen. He is right, we do NOT need _desktops_. They are nightmare to maintain, in both organizations and at home. We want terminals. The only thing he did not know is that the industry will decide to go the desktop route first before accepting the terminal concept.

    Of course, anyone can easily guess that our terminals today are web browsers. It is far from ideal. Web applications suffer from numerous limitations. But it is a step in the right direction. Also, Google makes a tremendious push to move all the data on the Internet from desktops and “terminalize” access.

    Anyway, it seems to happen quite often with great visions: they turn out to be correct, but with a delay from a couple of years to a couple of decades.

    Cramer

  74. I’ve only started using RSS recently… and for one simple reason: full text.

    When I downloaded my first aggregator a few years back, almost all of the feeds were summaries — and if I wanted to read the whole article, I had to go to the website. So, I thought, “Why not save my bookmarks and just go to the website first?” It seemed like all RSS did was give me one MORE step in information gathering. Plus, the aggregator at the time (I forget which one, but there weren’t many) wouldn’t display photos.

    Just last week, I got SharpReader, and I’ve seen the light. Most of the “better” blogs publish full text, and SharpReader is insanely easy to use and intuitive. Unfortuntely, I wish the regular news sites would publish full articles… but I’ll take what I can.

  75. I’ve only started using RSS recently… and for one simple reason: full text.

    When I downloaded my first aggregator a few years back, almost all of the feeds were summaries — and if I wanted to read the whole article, I had to go to the website. So, I thought, “Why not save my bookmarks and just go to the website first?” It seemed like all RSS did was give me one MORE step in information gathering. Plus, the aggregator at the time (I forget which one, but there weren’t many) wouldn’t display photos.

    Just last week, I got SharpReader, and I’ve seen the light. Most of the “better” blogs publish full text, and SharpReader is insanely easy to use and intuitive. Unfortuntely, I wish the regular news sites would publish full articles… but I’ll take what I can.

  76. The thing about rss is you can explain it all you like but what really gets people to grok it is to just use it. If you can get somebody to use a good reader for a couple weeks, they will experience the value of it in the same way you do. Explaining it just doesn’t explain it.

    Probably the biggest thing to happen with rss will be Outlook 2K7. That will also be its biggest problem in the workplace. I can just see a bunch of CEOs and presidents scratching their heads over this. They still see computers as fancy typewriter replacements. They’re going to see this as a new way for people to not do their work.

    And by the way, isn’t Flickr just wildly popular, these days? Surely it wasn’t because the kewl kids and early adopters were using it? You can’t tell me it was all popular and mainstream right from the beginning. How about Google? Google wasn’t mainstream at first. How about email? How about listening to mp3s? The cycle of adoption from edge to mainstream may not turn at a constant rate, but whether it applies to RSS certainly is not arguable. It applies to everything.

  77. The thing about rss is you can explain it all you like but what really gets people to grok it is to just use it. If you can get somebody to use a good reader for a couple weeks, they will experience the value of it in the same way you do. Explaining it just doesn’t explain it.

    Probably the biggest thing to happen with rss will be Outlook 2K7. That will also be its biggest problem in the workplace. I can just see a bunch of CEOs and presidents scratching their heads over this. They still see computers as fancy typewriter replacements. They’re going to see this as a new way for people to not do their work.

    And by the way, isn’t Flickr just wildly popular, these days? Surely it wasn’t because the kewl kids and early adopters were using it? You can’t tell me it was all popular and mainstream right from the beginning. How about Google? Google wasn’t mainstream at first. How about email? How about listening to mp3s? The cycle of adoption from edge to mainstream may not turn at a constant rate, but whether it applies to RSS certainly is not arguable. It applies to everything.

  78. Robert,

    You’re on the money here. As people understand the power of this information stream more business uses will occur. This is like the early days of news when folks were rowing out to meet the ships to get the latest information from travelers. Reuters anyone??

  79. Robert,

    You’re on the money here. As people understand the power of this information stream more business uses will occur. This is like the early days of news when folks were rowing out to meet the ships to get the latest information from travelers. Reuters anyone??

  80. It’s for this reason that I became a big fan of FeedBlitz. It pings your feed and serves it up as an opt-in email.

    I personally prefer RSS as a delivery vehicle, but I realize it’s not for everyone.

  81. It’s for this reason that I became a big fan of FeedBlitz. It pings your feed and serves it up as an opt-in email.

    I personally prefer RSS as a delivery vehicle, but I realize it’s not for everyone.

  82. I think it will catch on when nobody has to think about it. I remember the early days of Windows where you had to add a TCP/IP, Netware, or DECnet program to get a PC communicating on a network. Things got a whole lot easier once Microsoft embedded TCP/IP into Windows.

    Internet Explorer 7 and Outlook 2007 do the same thing for RSS for the bulk of folks not already on other operating systems and web browsers (aka the majority of people.)

    I’ve been running the beta the last few months on my PC. IE7 makes the RSS readable with an easy subscribe button at top, and IE7 and Outlook sync RSS feeds so you can read the feeds like emails in Outlook. Very easy, no addons, no thinking… Heck, you hardly realize you’re doing RSS.

  83. I think it will catch on when nobody has to think about it. I remember the early days of Windows where you had to add a TCP/IP, Netware, or DECnet program to get a PC communicating on a network. Things got a whole lot easier once Microsoft embedded TCP/IP into Windows.

    Internet Explorer 7 and Outlook 2007 do the same thing for RSS for the bulk of folks not already on other operating systems and web browsers (aka the majority of people.)

    I’ve been running the beta the last few months on my PC. IE7 makes the RSS readable with an easy subscribe button at top, and IE7 and Outlook sync RSS feeds so you can read the feeds like emails in Outlook. Very easy, no addons, no thinking… Heck, you hardly realize you’re doing RSS.

  84. Remember the old saw? Would you rather have $100,000 today or a penny doubled every day for a month?

    I can hang out and watch the doubling effect.

    —————————————————-

    wow just relised if u wait for a month you end up with 5 million!

  85. Remember the old saw? Would you rather have $100,000 today or a penny doubled every day for a month?

    I can hang out and watch the doubling effect.

    —————————————————-

    wow just relised if u wait for a month you end up with 5 million!

  86. We want terminals? No we don’t, corporates do, but we don’t…we want fun surfing, email, IM, goofy things, ways to communicate, gaming, and social bond, find info and news, and just plain waste time, and even bad things, like porn. A terminal is a locked prison, and not everyone’s needs are the same. The Corporate Mainframe wasn’t it, the Network Computer wasn’t it, too centralized, but on the flipside, the Desktop is a nightmare…

    Iron-fist, no fun, or fun, but nightmareish chaos…pick your poison.

  87. We want terminals? No we don’t, corporates do, but we don’t…we want fun surfing, email, IM, goofy things, ways to communicate, gaming, and social bond, find info and news, and just plain waste time, and even bad things, like porn. A terminal is a locked prison, and not everyone’s needs are the same. The Corporate Mainframe wasn’t it, the Network Computer wasn’t it, too centralized, but on the flipside, the Desktop is a nightmare…

    Iron-fist, no fun, or fun, but nightmareish chaos…pick your poison.