Is RSS Really Dead?

RSSNormally, I would never link to an article claiming that RSS is dead. In this case however, the piece was written by someone who actually understands its value in the great scheme of things. And even Dave Winer was seen sharing his own perspective in the comments of the above linked piece as if to officiate its authenticity.

For the record, RSS is no more dead that broadcast TV. Sure, the way we enjoy the content brought to us might be changing, but the content push aspect remains very much intact. Twitter, while a useful way to receive updates on various stuff, is not even remotely close to RSS with regard to flexibility. The API offered by Twitter is annoying, limited and leaves me searching for my RSS reader.

In my mind, RSS is a long ways away from being dead. On a holiday, perhaps. But mark my words, RSS is not even remotely dead in any way. I think we will instead, see RSS being used for syndication outside of the norm. More for sharing from website to website and perhaps less in the proper RSS readers of yesterday. And besides, seems like only yesterday that I was hearing about the death of email. And as history has shown us there, that is also a death that has been greatly exaggerated.

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  • David B.

    I have never been able to use an RSS reader, I know the benefits, I just can never bring myself to use the service. I do use RSS from sharing website to website like you mentioned.

  • John Fox

    I completely agree with you, Matt. In fact, I have written a dissenting view to Gillmor’s article here. I’d appreciate it if you could leave your thoughts as a comment after reading it.

  • Lamarr Wilson

    I use Google Reader daily. It’s hard for me to imagine RSS being dead when the term is not even mainstream. Ask any regular person what RSS is, and they couldn’t tell you, yet many of them use it. The My Yahoo page is a good example of this. I used that for a few years before I realized that it was RSS. I eventually went to the more powerful/flexible Google Reader.

    Before RSS, I would spend literally hours going thru my favorite forums/sites to see if anything was new. Now, it’s pushed to me. That type of service isn’t dying anytime soon.

  • EG

    Can you expand a bit on what you mean by ‘sharing between websites’?

  • Ranjit Padmanabhan

    Steve’s article took an extreme stand to generate controversy. It worked.

    RSS is plumbing, like DNS. The major reason for RSS’ lack of widespread use is that RSS Readers require users to know (or at least acknowledge) the existence of RSS. It’s like having to type IP addresses into a browser.

    I’ve babbled a bit more on this topic at the MashLogic blog.

  • Stormy

    I think there is a vast confusion being created here between a web standard and a social web 2.0 community web site. Two completely different. As great and exciting as Twitter is, it aint the Holy Grail of the Web…just as AOL Chat, MySpace, YouTube, AJAX, Google Earth, and Facebook. are not “in-the-black”, all-consuming communication “end-games” to the World Wide Web.

    Let us not forget….these are just web domain, SaaS service sites that deliver a service. Thats it! Nothing magical there. Maybe an API here and there to tap into, but its all data, and its all sent over HTTP. At the end of the day, all these services do NOT reinvent the Web or add much innovation. All these do is show us better and rather more interesting ways of using the same medium to communicate and connect with each other. We are still twisting and distorting HTML beyond what it was meant to do, and if anything, thats what makes all these “disoveries” exciting.

    What is real innovation? When a bunch of these Web 2.0 companies getogether and agree to use a standard. HTML and XML and XHTML and RSS are things that form the backbone for all this “magic”. As time marches on, we will see more of these Web 2.0 domains come and go and reinvent new creative ways to bring people together online and share data. But the its the agressive pushing of new standards like XML that make it all possible and RSS is a part of that. It may not be giving us real time in a popular social site, but that could change tomorrow…..I think its wide open as a standard media in terms of building social sites around RSS. We just haven’t discovered that yet. But the key is knowing that innovation isnt at Twitter…its the underlying protocols, frameworks and servers that make it possible to innovate these things. Let’s not forget that…especially when in 3 years a new social domain comes along that replaces Twitter with the next hottest thing…