Earlier this week, fellow RSS service The Old Reader wrote an awesome post on their blog about how RSS is alive and kicking. In fact, they argued, it’s more than just alive: RSS is one of the most undercover and pervasive technologies on the Internet.
It was a great testament to the resilience and durability of RSS, and one that got our whole team thinking. So, I wanted to take the opportunity to share our thoughts on the subject.
The shutdown of Google Reader got the tech community writing about and discussing the state of RSS in the months leading up to its final days. Obviously, it was a topic close to our hearts since as a service, we support the continued relevance of RSS.
As The Old Reader points out, the death of Google Reader didn’t by any means snuff out RSS. Google’s abandonment of the technology hasn’t stopped (and won’t) stop the publishing and reading of RSS feeds. The most powerful appeal is the unprecedented amount of control and privacy that it gives its users – something that’s hard to come by these days.
The article sparked a discussion on Hacker News, with users sharing their own perspectives about what’s happened to RSS over time and why they continue to prefer using RSS to receive their news. We definitely suggest having a look at the entire thread.
Here’s a few interesting points we enjoyed from the conversation:
In some ways, we feel the same about RSS. The flexibility of use and its open nature is something that we admire and respect. Google Reader’s exit from the market might have cut off one of the most user-friendly gateways to RSS, but there’s still certain groups of users who want an RSS reader and a lot of able web products ready to provide that experience.
We also agree that RSS is at an important point of innovation in its history, but you can’t mention this without discussing how content consumption itself is also evolving. As we’ve mentioned before, FlowReader is about finding an easy way to manage the new content landscape we’re navigating right now. RSS is such a personal experience, one that allows users complete control over the content they consume. On the other hand, the role of social media technology in news aggregation can’t be dismissed either.
Our online communities, wherever they might exist, impact our content experience and provide us with a social interaction that an RSS reader is not always able to supply. Sharing is an essential part of content discovery that can neither be ignored or discounted. In our eyes, it’s not about whether one will replace the other – they each serve different purposes for users and it’s our job as a team to figure out how we believe a modern reader can help maximize all the resources available.
It’s not so much about whether RSS is alive, but what does a new reader look like and what can teams do to accommodate both technologies?
Our point is that we see a lot of RSS services trying to answer this question and finding ways to incorporate a social experience (including Google Reader when it existed) or find a way for users to be able to have the advantage of control as well as content discovery through their communities. It’s not just RSS alone – it’s the possibility of what RSS can do in tandem with other technologies that interests us. This is the question that we see a lot of readers working to answer and its the same one that drives our own development.