Reboot RSS readers? Sorry, that train has left the station

Loic Le Meur, CEO of Seesmic, and I were arguing last week about whether RSS has a future or not. He speaks up for “it has a future” on his blog. Dave Winer today has a great post on how to reboot RSS.

First, lets separate RSS readers from the format. You know, Google Reader is not the XML that flows underneath. Truth be told, even in Twitter and Facebook a lot of what I read gets there via RSS even though we really don’t know that and don’t care (just like most of us no longer type “http” at the beginning of a web page, and we don’t care that the system that delivered my words to your screen was built on top of HTTP).

What is dying is our RSS reading behavior. Over and over people tell me they are using RSS readers less and less and that they are using Facebook and Twitter more and more. Dave Winer is right about one of the reasons: that Google Reader wasn’t a river of news.

But there were lots of other problems with Google Reader as well. For one, it lost me when it added Friends in an attempt to become Facebook, but when I added more than 1,000 friends it got dreadfully slow. The only way the team could fix that problem was to delete all my friends. Twitter works, and works fast, even though I am following 22,000.

Also, normal people couldn’t figure out what RSS was, or how to use it. Facebook’s “likes” and “shares” and Twitter’s “follows” and “RTs” are much easier to use, and more consistent.

Now that those buttons are all over the web it’s going to be very hard for a new news reader to get us to add yet another “share on RSS system” button. Sorry, but that’s just not gonna happen unless some RSS system is able to get a billion people to use it before Facebook can.

Instead of arguing about RSS reader’s future, I will instead focus on Twitter’s and Facebook’s future.

For me, that future includes a few things:

1. Tracking and filtering. You really must watch the video on DataSift. DataSift is going to make RSS very much less relevant as we’re able to build new filtering systems.
2. Client innovation. That includes the new TweetDeck and Seesmic (last week Seesmic shipped a new client and plug-in platform) as well as new pagination systems from Paper.li, Twitter Times, and Flipboard (I’ll be at Flipboard today, they are working on a new version that will be out soon).
3. Content optimization systems. SocialFlow is being used by the Economist, GigaOm, and RWW. The video I did with the founder gives a hint as to why I think SocialFlow is something that content-producing teams should consider.
4. New advertising systems. CompassLabs has built a new platform that delivers much more relevant real-time ads to Twitter and Facebook clients. My video gives insights into that.
5. Curation tools. There’s a couple of good ones coming from Curated.by and Storify. More when they hit the market over the next few weeks.

All that innovation is happening on top of Twitter and Facebook, not on top of RSS, and I’m seeing signs that we’ll see even more soon (Demo is this week, Techcrunch Disrupt is in a couple of weeks).

About Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, I travel the world with Rocky Barbanica looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology and report that here.

100 thoughts on “Reboot RSS readers? Sorry, that train has left the station

  1. My RSS reader is my main line of getting relevant news. I use a desktop reader and I can go through tens of headlines in minutes and if a headline looks interesting, I can read the body right there. I subscribe to quality feeds only.

    Not so with twitter. Too much noise. I don’t want to read what people did in their daily life, read about mundane thoughts or ‘funny’ stuff. because tweets are 140 characters, it encourages people to post just about anything, too quickly and too easily. A blog writer takes time to craft his post.

    I don’t understand how you can follow 22000 users. That would be endless stream of text. Because I follow very few people, I read EVERY tweet.

  2. Hi Robert and Readers,

    I’m the founder of Hidden Reflex…we’re an India-based start-up and we’re launching a new news web app which we *hope* will finally make the power of RSS easily accessible to anyone…it’s very simple, not technically sexy (at this point), but actually something that geeks and most importantly our grandmothers (non-geeks) have found really useful. Write me and I can anyone interested into our demo site…we’re still a few weeks away from launch…alok at hiddenreflex dot com

  3. RSS readers are still the most effective tools to keep track with blogs and discussion forums. Neither Twitter nor any of the social network services can compete with that.

  4. RSS isn’t really dead, it was never mean to be a user-facing technology sort of thing I don’t think. The thing is it is still the best content distribution system out there. Tied to no vendor and completely distributed. All it needs now is a really good user-facing client.

  5. RSS isn’t really dead, it was never mean to be a user-facing technology sort of thing I don’t think. The thing is it is still the best content distribution system out there. Tied to no vendor and completely distributed. All it needs now is a really good user-facing client.

  6. Well I’m using my RSS reader (Google Reader) more than ever before really. I tried to use Twitter similarly (to feed flipboard mainly) but that was a failure for a variety of reasons including the limitations of flipboard and how many feeds don’t also have twitter feeds.

  7. Google Reader is still indispensable for me as a tool to curate news and posts from a large number of sources. Oddly enough, Reader became such an important tool for me after watching a video of you a few years ago about how you used it with keyboard shortcuts to quickly scan headlines.

  8. Who needs 22,000 follows in a list on Twitter? I’d much rather have a 100 good RSS feeds in Google Reader that integrate with my other Google services online in a web browser anytime anywhere I want them, with the ability to read what I want to read in an hour or two. Say, how long does it take to read 22,000 follows? You really should get back to only reading good quality material, than you would find thats just way too much reading.

    As for the like this, like that, RT, whatever people don’t just know how to do this stuff. It may be easy for you, but at one time or another I’m sure you weren’t up to code on the latest social BS. RSS integrates nicely with most modern browsers, and you don’t haft to go looking for some random help article.

    Can’t speak for everyone else, but I just recently jumped on Twitter/Facebook only to see what some distant friends/family are up to. I posted this on another blog this week too. I really wish people would stop thinking social sites are everything because they are not. I care about feeds a lot because I even get my soical updates through feeds in reader. Its very counter productive to be on a social network all day.

    Did I mention feeds are more than just news? I’ve subscribed to many shows off Hulu and other IPTV shows that more than suite my TV show needs. Best part is I never haft to worry about DVRing something, I watch in on my schedule over the internet. Who needs cable TV? I don’t!

  9. I think this has relevance to this conversation:
    http://googlereader.blogspot.com/2010/09/welcome-and-look-back.html

    I can’t argue with the fact that Twitter is a more efficient way to get access to information. And, with tools like Datasift, the information that you really want to find will be easier, which can only be good too right.

    I think of this though, there s just something missing here. The web (and the Internet in general) is not cookie-cutter. your favorite site/blog may have no Twitter/Facebook engagement and it may even have no RSS feeds. In today’s web world, this is very rare – yes – but possible. The problem with this (it think) is that with all the information out there, we need to be unified in the way we decide to aggregate and gather this information.

    I personally could see a day where tools like Reader get extended to those sites/blogs that don’t use RSS, or enhanced to improve on the “Read it later” aspects of pages we find. While you may see the feeds of 22,000 users on Twitter Robert, are you reading the 22,000^whatever articles that you see linked to every time this stream passes? I imagine some of them you might pass up now until your ready to read later. There are tools for that, and I feel that Google Reader has to potential to become good tool for things like that too.

    It reminds me of a conversation I had some years ago about what receiver/tape deck/cd player to use(I’m no expert in this stuff). The very valuable and profound message that came from that conversation is that no one tool or vendor does anything best. Perhaps the Denon receiver is the best, while the Sony tape player is the best. Mix them all together and you ave the best sound for you. This seems to apply well to the Internet, no one tool will get you the information the way you need to get it (in the most efficient manner).

    This is why RSS readers like Google Reader need our support – in addition to Twitter/Facebook clients and tools like the wonderful Flipboard.

    My two cents. :)
    Kevin

  10. Robert – do you believe the trend away from RSS and onto Twitter / Facebook is reducing the depth of information we receive? I agree with you – I used to follow ~500 RSS feeds and got an enormous depth and perspective of info. But I’ve abandoned it and get my news through Twitter now. But the depth of what I get is much shallower. I feel like I’ve moved from reading books to watching TV, and I’m not sure I am the better for it. What do you think?

  11. Personally, I tend to seperate my usage of Facebook/Twitter and Google Reader too much to lump everything into my twitter feed. To me, Twitter and Facebook are simply social. I keep up with friends and interact there. But with Google Reader, it fits more for my more passive reading and digesting of information that I have little desire to interact with other than simple sharing options.

    That, and I really don’t understand why the various options can’t coexist. In the future, I’m sure that there will be more to the internet than Facebook and Twitter… or at least, I hope there will be.

    1. You said, “I really don’t understand why the various options can’t coexist.”

      Agreed. There doesn’t have to be a one-stop-shop for information. It’s no different than the silliness about iPhone/iPad killers. Why can’t there just be really good phones to go around with none of them being slain?

  12. Interesting piece.

    Is RSS dead? I don’t think so, and I tend to agree with those that suggest/argue that it is just getting pushed out of site. That doesn’t translate, to me, that dead. In fact, when I come across a site that I find interesting, the first thing I do is subscribe to the site’s feed.

    I have actually increased my RSS activity as I am in the midst of taking a social media diet, if you well. In fact, it was through your RSS feed that I knew about this piece. I think you have a point about more and more people sharing information via Facebook and Twitter. However, sharing on those sites gives me no sense of reach. At least with RSS, I can, generally, get a sense of how many people are accessing my blog.

    I use Feedly as an overlay to Google Reader. I prefer the layout much better. Navigation on Google Reader is a mess. Further, I’m not following people or drawing in feeds from others. I use RSS/Google Reader as my content provider and Feedly as the polished publisher.

  13. Ah Robert. You just admitted that FaceBook and Twitter have RSS feeding loads of information into their systems. That was precisely Dave’s point. RSS is now becoming the lingua franca of the web.

    This inovation may be taking place on top of systems such as Twitter and facebook, but underneath those systems, RSS is still very much alive and well.

    Thus, RSS has simply been pushed further down the stack, just like HTTP and HTML.

    1. Likewise, an RSS feed is often updated with a new ‘item’ before or concurrently with a cross-post to Twitter. You don’t tweet a link to an article before you write that article. And every CMS has RSS baked in so those feeds are updated at the time of publishing the content. RSS is usually the source of content that is used to post on Twitter (i.e. using a service like dlvr.it). Sometimes RSS is bypassed and a direct connection is made to Twitter to post a link back to article. But the RSS feed exists and is their for the taking. People suck it in, Google Search sucks it in and many other services aggregate the content and put it to use.

      Twitter is good at short alerts about stuff that just happened before any real article is created. But the technology to use a blog and RSS for this same purpose works today too. Seconds after I post to my blog, that content is on Twitter.

  14. I think you are WRONG when you say: “DataSift is going to make RSS very much less relevant as we’re able to build new filtering systems.” I think that DataSift has the possibility to make RSS more relevant, as it is possible to release news via SM and on your blog when the market is asking for news or background content. Which can make DataSift even more powerful, I actually doubt that DataSift – like you – realizes that it can make an even greater impact.

    You can release 140 character of information, or you can release 120-130 characters with a link for a background article. (10-20 characters is more than enough for a URL.)

  15. For me at least, RSS and Twitter server two different purposes, and the difference is that Twitter is ephemeral and RSS has persistence. For example, I have the choice of following Manchester City’s Twitter or RSS feeds. Both have more or less the same content, but it makes much more sense to me to follow them via RSS because if a match date or time changes I won’t miss that notice since it “sticks” in my feed rather than flowing by me via Twitter. If on Tuesday they announce that next weekend’s match is now at 2pm EST instead of 4pm I’d miss that notice if I didn’t happen to check Twitter that day, but I’d get the notice in my RSS reader even if I didn’t happen to check for a few days.

    Another way that RSS wins out over Twitter is for following blogs. @gruber might not tweet that he’s put up a new blog post for every single post, but because I have him in my RSS feeds that’s not a problem. There’s also things like Dilbert, say, where it just shows up in my feed each morning. Can’t do that via Twitter.

    So basically the difference for me is that RSS is things I choose to subscribe to so I don’t have to go out and get them from the individual websites every time. Twitter is where I follow someone or something and am content to sit back and let their thoughts arrive whenever they happen to say something. I see that as two completely different purposes. One, RSS, is for reading things that interest me without having to go get them, whereas Twitter is where things just happen to come my way. It’s like RSS is going to the bookstore to get specific books that interest me, whereas Twitter is like the book of the month club where they just send me that month’s book. (Uh, do they even still have things as archaic as book of the month clubs anymore?)

    With RSS I choose what gets delivered, with Twitter I only choose who delivers things to me.

  16. The only problem I have with Google Reader is the extra fluff. When i first saw all the friend/follow/notes/shares related stuff, it was an obvious play for facebook familiarity but it doesnt work that well in Google Reader and i ignore all of it. However, I use GR everyday and often toggle between the ‘All Items/Feeds’ river and feed specific rivers. Depends on which mental mode I am in. Still a useful tool. You can also disable unread counts if that sort of nudge annoys you.

    The main problem with Twitter is the lack of good filters. When you follow a Twitter user account, you subscribe to almost all of the tweets in it except for a subset of @replies to users that you do not also follow. This is a problem when say you are interested in a specific aspect of a user but not interested in all the content that the user pushes out. You cannot really partially follow a user unless a twitter client attempts to provide such granular filtering functionality.

    At least with blogs and RSS and reader software, usually you can subscribe to an RSS feed per category or at least if categories and/or tags are used on the blog and added to the main feeds items, a good RSS Reader could leverage that data as filtered streams (something GR does not do). Point is, RSS feeds can be utilized more intelligently by consumer friendly front-end applications. They just haven’t been. Not enough innovation and that is primarily thanks to the Social Network Phenomena.

    When I can tag/categorize or target my tweets to a subset of followers, then Twitter will become way more useful. I’m sure I have followers that dont want to read many of my tweets but are highly interested in some of what I have to say… could be tech related, politics, education reform, video art, running etc. For the person only interested in what I am coding, it could suck when they have to deal with 20+ tweets in between one that interests them. Thats noise to them, but not to others. The solution should not require having to own multiple twitter accounts. And that is the way twitter is today. I cannot even mute a friend for a while. I have to unfollow to mute them from my twitter stream or use another account for filtered content. Broken.

    With RSS/Atom and Google Reader, I can manage the content better and if I am willing, I can generate custom feeds. It is much moee powerful and flexible than an ad hoc usage of a service that originally was intended for the question: “What are you doing right now?”.

    Twitter’s real-time ability only recently became more pervasive as the stream APIs were made more readily available. Before this, Twitter clients polled just like common Email and RSS clients. Not much difference in speed. But now RSS/Atom also have their own real-time system with PuSH/RSSCloud technologies.

    Regarding Datasift, that technology can also suck in RSS. At least is was built to be source-agnostic. So theoretically, a new breed of RSS Readers could sprout with the help of Datasift, dont you think?

    I dont think I will ever totally understand the need for tech bloggers to compare RSS with Twitter/Facebook/Buzz etc. The problem usually is in the choice of language. Instead of saying Feed Readers, people just say RSS. Recently, it was at least distinguished ever so slightly as “Consumer RSS” as the form of RSS that is dead, died or going to die. That at least was an acknowledgement that RSS is an XML format and used for data pipe plumbing on the Interwebs. RSS is not software, not a product. Never was. Thankful to those who point this out.

  17. I’m just teasing you Robert, You know I love yea man, I know you read your numbers cause you pay attention to even me.

  18. You article is confusing. Are you saying RSS protocol is dieing, or the RSS Client is dieing? You flip-flop between those two topics so I don’t know what you’re point is.

  19. Google reader is awful as a social tool, Buzz has slowed performance for … what?? I am not ready to invest in an iPad yet, so while I admire Flipboard from a distance, it is not part of the equation now. From a marketing perspective, of course I want to get my information out to every outlet available but I have to be realistic that my audience is passive and most likely is still reading my professional emails and RSS feeds.

  20. I dunno. I still use Google Reader a lot. Twitter & Facebook are not a good replacement for a feed reader, especially when you have a lot of feeds that you follow. Putting them into Twitter, would create way too much noise for me.

  21. I dunno. I still use Google Reader a lot. Twitter & Facebook are not a good replacement for a feed reader, especially when you have a lot of feeds that you follow. Putting them into Twitter, would create way too much noise for me.

  22. I dunno. I still use Google Reader a lot. Twitter & Facebook are not a good replacement for a feed reader, especially when you have a lot of feeds that you follow. Putting them into Twitter, would create way too much noise for me.

      1. I’ve played with them before, but mostly to sort the people I follow, so I can remember who people are! And I only follow like 250 people! I can’t imagine following 22K like you do. Is that where lists come in handy?

  23. Maybe this is a bit off topic but my problem is that I have to go to any number of different sites. I use Google reader for the RSS blog posting I try to keep up with and then FB and Twiter for community contact. I was hopping I could add blog posting to a TweetDeck account but so far I’ve been unable to – it that,s possible at all. Then again most likely I’m completely miss understanding this thread.

  24. Maybe this is a bit off topic but my problem is that I have to go to any number of different sites. I use Google reader for the RSS blog posting I try to keep up with and then FB and Twiter for community contact. I was hopping I could add blog posting to a TweetDeck account but so far I’ve been unable to – it that,s possible at all. Then again most likely I’m completely miss understanding this thread.

  25. Maybe this is a bit off topic but my problem is that I have to go to any number of different sites. I use Google reader for the RSS blog posting I try to keep up with and then FB and Twiter for community contact. I was hopping I could add blog posting to a TweetDeck account but so far I’ve been unable to – it that,s possible at all. Then again most likely I’m completely miss understanding this thread.

  26. I use Google Reader because it’s not a river. I can neglect it for 2 days and the posts are just as accessible. If you neglect Twitter for a couple of hours you’ve missed something important. I like Flipboard but it is still a river. It helps the problem by filtering out, but it’s still sorted by time, descending.

  27. I use Google Reader because it’s not a river. I can neglect it for 2 days and the posts are just as accessible. If you neglect Twitter for a couple of hours you’ve missed something important. I like Flipboard but it is still a river. It helps the problem by filtering out, but it’s still sorted by time, descending.

    1. This is the main problem for me with using Twitter – I dont live in Twitter and usually read at specific points in the day. Using Twitter I miss plenty.

      That said – Scoble is a very early adopter and I agree the future is going to be inside Twitter and Facebook for reading this content. Some reader that stores all the tweets and then displays it Flipboard style is all it is going to take for me to move and that doesn’t strike me as something that is going to take long to come about. Maybe DataSift will solve the first part of that,

    2. This is the main problem for me with using Twitter – I dont live in Twitter and usually read at specific points in the day. Using Twitter I miss plenty.

      That said – Scoble is a very early adopter and I agree the future is going to be inside Twitter and Facebook for reading this content. Some reader that stores all the tweets and then displays it Flipboard style is all it is going to take for me to move and that doesn’t strike me as something that is going to take long to come about. Maybe DataSift will solve the first part of that,

    3. This is the main problem for me with using Twitter – I dont live in Twitter and usually read at specific points in the day. Using Twitter I miss plenty.

      That said – Scoble is a very early adopter and I agree the future is going to be inside Twitter and Facebook for reading this content. Some reader that stores all the tweets and then displays it Flipboard style is all it is going to take for me to move and that doesn’t strike me as something that is going to take long to come about. Maybe DataSift will solve the first part of that,

  28. You follow 22,000 people but your not really reading the content, Your numbers are just an ego game you play with yourself. Come on…

  29. You follow 22,000 people but your not really reading the content, Your numbers are just an ego game you play with yourself. Come on…

    1. Bullshit. I’ve favorited 25,000 tweets in past year or so. I am one of the top retweeters on Twitter and if you watch my videos you’ll see that I’m quite up to date on what’s being discussed on Twitter. It is possible to read a lot of tweets.

    2. that is honestly bullshit. I can tell you first hand the man reads, shares, favorites and retweets like it was going out of fashion.

  30. Your arguing the centralized system over the distributed. Centralized = consistent, simple. Distributed = more freedom of choice. Those Are the benefits. You can guess the downfalls.

  31. Your arguing the centralized system over the distributed. Centralized = consistent, simple. Distributed = more freedom of choice. Those Are the benefits. You can guess the downfalls.

  32. Robert, how do you feel about Buzz vs Twitter? I find the 140 char thing to be silly these days, though it was fun when we started on Twitter. If Buzz had iPhone apps I’d probably switch to Buzz as a primary and have it repost at Twitter. Of course I don’t have any sort of volume like you do so maybe we’re playing in different sports here…

  33. Robert, how do you feel about Buzz vs Twitter? I find the 140 char thing to be silly these days, though it was fun when we started on Twitter. If Buzz had iPhone apps I’d probably switch to Buzz as a primary and have it repost at Twitter. Of course I don’t have any sort of volume like you do so maybe we’re playing in different sports here…

    1. I use both, but I use Twitter 100x more than Google Buzz. Why? Much more efficient to read and about 100x more people publish content on Twitter than on Buzz (at least in tech industry). Plus, for tech industry Twitter is the new business card.

    2. I use both, but I use Twitter 100x more than Google Buzz. Why? Much more efficient to read and about 100x more people publish content on Twitter than on Buzz (at least in tech industry). Plus, for tech industry Twitter is the new business card.

    3. I use both, but I use Twitter 100x more than Google Buzz. Why? Much more efficient to read and about 100x more people publish content on Twitter than on Buzz (at least in tech industry). Plus, for tech industry Twitter is the new business card.

  34. Well, we disagree. Since I follow 22,000 and you only follow 2,000, maybe we just aren’t using the same tools. I totally disagree with you, though. Google Reader falls apart at my level.

  35. Well, we disagree. Since I follow 22,000 and you only follow 2,000, maybe we just aren’t using the same tools. I totally disagree with you, though. Google Reader falls apart at my level.

  36. My issue on Twitter is that there isn’t really any info there. I see the same headline retweeted too many times and have no way to know if there is anything new there. Shortened URLs make that problem worse. (I’d really like to see Twitter abolish shortened URLs when reading on devices that can display more characters.)

      1. But I only get half of what I need. Assuming I’d make my own lists, or find lists that are relevant to my interests, the problem with Twitter for news is that I have to go to Twitter and then go somewhere else to get anything possibly useful. With Reader I usually know if something is useful from scanning the first part of an article, and never have to go somewhere else.

        On Guy Kawasaki’s tweets I find I often have to click his link, which takes me to a page that says click a link to read this on the Amex blog, which takes me to a page that says you can see half of what I promised out on twitter, no go read these pages to see more. That’s dumb, in RSS I had the article I ultimately wanted right there.

        1. Flipboard takes a Twitter list and shows me the text from an item too. No RSS needed. What you don’t get is this is possible with Twitter. On the other hand, getting RSS buttons onto most content sources? Not gonna happen. It’s Twitter and Facebook for most people. Notice that last night on MTV’s VMAs they were talking about Twitter, NOT RSS.

          1. I do like Flipboard, but again, the content I see through the Twitter medium is not what I want to spend time on, it’s not curated enough, it’s mostly a social tool. I do think Twitter/Facebook are good for sharing and socializing content, but for traditional feeds like blogs, news sites, publications sites, I’d rather see the updates in RSS.

            Has Flipboard considered making a version that works with RSS? It can’t be that hard, and would let people read RSS like a newspaper.

        2. Flipboard takes a Twitter list and shows me the text from an item too. No RSS needed. What you don’t get is this is possible with Twitter. On the other hand, getting RSS buttons onto most content sources? Not gonna happen. It’s Twitter and Facebook for most people. Notice that last night on MTV’s VMAs they were talking about Twitter, NOT RSS.

      2. Lists are clearly the only method to manage a large Twitter feed (and there really isn’t much difference between 22,000 and 2,000; they are both a lot). The main downsides are titles only and that not everyone is pushing to Twitter. Yes, on a my mobile the titles only are fine but when working on my desktop it’s nice to see everything while browsing.

        That said, I might try it with a few of my key feeds and see how the experience is different. I’m in Reader (and Twitter) daily

      3. But lists are cumbersome, at the moment at any rate. The various apps don’t really make them easy to manage. For example, they always begin with the username so in Seesmic Desktop, where the column is not expandable, you can’t even read the name of the list half the time; which is pretty useless.

      4. But lists are cumbersome, at the moment at any rate. The various apps don’t really make them easy to manage. For example, they always begin with the username so in Seesmic Desktop, where the column is not expandable, you can’t even read the name of the list half the time; which is pretty useless.

  37. G Reader isn’t a social tool. They added it for bad reasons, and obviously it doesn’t work well. I follow only a few people on Reader, those I know also pick articles I like, and those that I actually discuss and share articles with. I can use the “Share this” button to post to Twitter or Facebook when I want to share there, and actually my shared items do get reposted on Facebook to try to get to a wider audience.

  38. ironically, i am jumping over to google reader to read this post since it seems the comment plugin here keeps forcing page to jump down to latest comment and i cannot read the article (Mac/Chrome).

  39. Things like my6sense help a great deal in prioritizing RSS, but they still must rely on the user to pick the feeds that they want to prioritize. Their integration with Twitter is likewise limited to the user’s feed.

    There is enough information out there that is new and discoverable, if there are tools to discover and a format to do this in. Twitter and Facebook likes are all well and good, but they rely on your friends, follwees, etc. to build the stream instead of creating it for your holistically from the Whole.

  40. You’re confusing RSS with Google Reader as well…. RSS is a nearly perfect technology for what it does…get you updates in content on sites and blogs. It isn’t meant for instant updates and chatter like Twitter and Facefeed are. It’s meant for people who actually want to read material and have things in a semi published context. For that It is almost perfect. If all people would publish full RSS feeds I’d rarely have to go to sites to see what’s there, it would be in the reader. Apps like Reeder download that content so I can get it offline easily and quickly. Twitter needs to update constantly, and shortened URLs mean I have no information, I have to be connected to get the content, and I can’t really easily track what I’ve done, read, etc without many other apps to do so. Twitter and Facebook are just too complicated and useless for real information consuming.

      1. This list is handy and useful not because it’s not RSS, it’s because it’s curated. That’s what is sorely missing in all those early days clients, social signals. I’m subscribed to your twitter Favs via RSS, not because it’s RSS, but because it’s yours…

  41. With the demise of Bloglines and the limited user base of Google Reader, what are power users to do? Could I move my feeds in Facebook? Maybe. What I lose is the import/export options provided by Reader and also the ease of subscribing to a feed right from any web page.

    And Robert, can you turn off that damn auto refresh for the blog page and let us enable if we want it to happen? I’m in Chrome and it keeps refreshing and I couldn’t finish reading or posting without the page repositioning. Is this just me?

  42. I still prefer an RSS reader over Facebook or Twitter for sites I know I want to follow. On Twitter, I’ll miss something if I’m not sitting at the computer when it is posted. Google Reader lets me read, in full text, the sites I want to read.

    Twitter is better for finding things via serendipity. I can discover sites and links I have no clue exist. If I serendipitously find a new site that I like, I’ll subscribe to their feed.

      1. Some sites do not have full text RSS feeds. ALL tweets do not have full text, however. I personally don’t bother subscribing to sites without full text feeds.

        On my iPhone and iPad I use Feeddler, which I like. Again, I can get the full text which I prefer to 140 character headlines.

        That being said, RSS has never been popular outside of a small group of tech savvy people. The last I read, the highest RSS penetration was 11% of interent users. Facebook penetration is certainly much higher than that. As a content creator, I view my Facebook Fan Page as a defacto RSS reader for people who follow.

        From the standpoint of a creator, so long as you are pushing out the XML, it can go to Facebook, Reader, Twitter, whatever. It doesn’t really matter.

  43. While I agree that “RSS” is the wrong way to label this, I think you miss the fact that twitter and facebook and rss and atom and pubsubhubbub and xyz can flow in a new generation of clients where social gestures are also part of the equation. An RSS feed is like a Twitter feed, conceptually.

    They might not be called newsreaders anymore, but we need new clients for the era of the Flow. Flexible and customizable UIs and Services. And these “flow clients” need to be built with the modern OpenWeb stack, not some proprietary runtimes. Open Source matters for innovation.

    There is lots of re-invention possible in 2010, let’s just keep some historical perspective about what worked and what didn’t…

    1. While you are right, you can do that, I’ve found that nearly everything I want to follow is already available on Twitter or Facebook. So why again should I care about atom, pubsubhubbub, or RSS? I already have 22,000 things to read in Twitter, which include full-on news feeds like http://twitter.com/scoblemedia/world-news-brands which include hundreds of the world’s news brands. Why do I need more?

      1. What about those sites that are important to follow but don’t do anything on Twitter or Facebook. Some exist in my feed and I don’t really want to create a custom feed to push into Twitter. Am I missing something?

  44. I use a desktop twitter client and haven’t opened up Reader in a super-long time. I actually have WTF moments when a news source/magazine doesn’t have a twitter account. i like the promise of newer RSS experiences on the iPad. We’ll see where that goes.

  45. Agree with you 100%. RSS is a means to an end …and not an end by itself. Content discovery and consumption will all shift eventually to Facebook and Twitter.

  46. I have to agree with you on the addition of Friends to Google Reader, I follow most of the same people on Twitter or other sites, so I know what articles they find interesting, it just slows Google reader down, when I do use it. I do believe that RSS readers are still useful, especially for people who don’t use list on Twitter.

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