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RSS Dying?

Sep - 1 - 2012
Nicole C. Engard

I’ve been using RSS since before we had aggregators, since before we used it to keep up with blogs and other social sites. I was using RSS to syndicate content from other sites on to my own back in the day, and now this post from Ken Varnum points me to an article that is talking about the death of RSS. Adam Turner writes:

RSS is one of the universal open standards which underpins the web. Clicking on that little orange icon lets you easily subscribe to updates from a vast range of websites and services — regardless of your technological allegiance. Your RSS reader then notifies you when new content is published. You’ll either get the entire article or just the intro and link to the original webpage, depending on what the publisher wants to provide.

In this age of format wars, corporate takeovers, legal battles and patent trolling, RSS is one of few great standards we can all rely on. Which could be exactly why the control freaks of the internet want to kill it.

Ken adds:

While I regret the change in philosophy that has led popular social networking sites from making it harder for the content on the site to be used in other venues, I suppose I understand it. I imagine the Twitters and Facebooks of the world are thinking something along the lines of this: “If we can prevent that scourge of openness, RSS, from liberating individual user’s content, we can sell more ads or control more interactions.” In a commercial sense, that’s plausible, even if not wholly reflecting reality.

I can see where both authors are coming from, but being an advocate for openness and for collaboration, I’m pretty annoyed. Why not slap ads in our RSS feeds if it’s a matter of making money? Why make it so hard for me to get all the information I want in one place? If I have to go out to several places to get information, I’m going to be less informed because I’ll never be able to follow as much as I do now.

My husband and I were just talking about IFTTT (which I mentioned earlier this week) and how we can’t use it to post our blog content to Google+ automatically – in fact there is no way to post content automatically to Google+ (that I know of) and he asked a good question – how are they ever going to compete as a social network if they don’t offer the same services the other sites do … but maybe what’s going to happen is that the other sites are going to follow in Google’s footsteps and make it harder and harder to share content automatically.

Social networks, RSS feeds and automated posting services have made it so that we can all share and absorb so much more than we were ever able to before – why take that technology away from us?

2 Responses so far.

  1. Daniel G says:

    Thanks for this, Nicole.

    I’ve been using RSS forever, too, and “RSS is dead” or “RSS is dying” articles have appeared for years. Although the biggest sites like FB, Twitter, and G+ may be focused on “monetization,” that still leaves over 200 sites in my Google Reader that I consider worth subscribing to.

    A couple tips, in case anyone finds them helpful:

    To monitor sites that don’t have a feed, changedetection.com checks pages for changes and provides an RSS feed of changes.

    A short Google session using date limiters will reveal how to continue getting feeds from FB and Twitter.

    BTW, the RSS Specifications blog that Ken points to links to an article about HootSuite, which can supposedly post RSS feeds to G+ automatically.

    Cheers,
    Daniel

  2. Nicole says:

    Daniel,

    Thanks for the tips!! I’m going to check these out.

    Nicole


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