Still Relying on RSS

Taking to my blog to write about RSS reminds me a little of those who vent about privacy on Facebook. My intention isn’t to defend RSS because it doesn’t need me to defend it. Instead I’d like to point out how I use it and why it’s still valuable to me in a world of Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

OK, I threw that last one in there for laughs.

It’s true that these services do bubble up some great content. Curious people post links to interesting content. But combing through thousands of tweets and status updates is a major time suck. I seldom go back through my streams searching for content I missed because the best stuff comes back around.

And really, if it’s tech news I’m after, I can get my fix at Techmeme.

At least 90% of the RSS feeds I subscribe to come to me through Reeder on either my iPhone or iPad. I’ve tried products such as the popular Flipboard or Zite that integrate RSS with Twitter and Facebook and attempt to beautify the content for various devices, but I find they get in the way more than they help.

Reeder takes the opposite approach. It presents the content and gets out of the way. It’s been my favorite iOS app for three years now.

But I can’t imagine RSS is going anywhere. I rely on it more today than I did five years ago. I follow a few popular writers such as Bob Lefsetz and Dave Winer, but they are the exceptions. Both Bob and Dave write often and are followed by tens if not hundreds of thousands of people. Yet it’s hard to imagine them writing any differently if they had a dozen readers. They have strong opinions and share personal stories. Those two traits are shared by both popular and lessor known writers I follow.

Those who share personal experiences tend to make it onto my RSS list before all others. Some of them may refer to a news story that hits CNN, but they spend less time reporting the details and more time sharing their take on the matter. A few see the world through a view finder and allow their pictures to tell a story. I love finding an unknown writer, adding it to my feed, and then sharing it with others.

Who knows what Facebook and Twitter will do with their feeds. I don’t have control over that. But I have full control of my RSS feed. That counts for a lot.

4 thoughts on “Still Relying on RSS

  1. Techmeme is a very narrow slice of tech news. A lot of people think like you do that they’re getting the news they need that way, but believe me, you’re not.

    That’s the problem with Facebook too. They don’t skew their algorithm to make sure you get the news, they get you the links that are most profitable to them.

    The only way to ensure you’re getting diverse news is to program it yourself.


    1. Dave, I agree about Techmeme. I’m sure it does skew towards profit for them although I’ve found many of their links to be informative, or at least, get me started on the topic. I’m probably less likely to spend a lot of time programming news for myself, but don’t want to rely on an automated service either. Would be interested to hear where you start.


  2. I totally agree with you. Now that I have an iPad, I am enjoying reading blog articles again. For now I’m just using a free app, Mobile RSS, and it’s simple and easy to use. And gets out of the way.

    Flipboard is a good way for me to catch up on news headlines, but I wouldn’t want my feeds there.


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