Swizec Teller - a geek with a hatswizec.com

    RSS not dead, just misunderstood

    • Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

      Image via CrunchBase

    Lately there has been raging debate in the blogosphere (is that still a word?) around whether RSS is dead or not and the fact that it's apparently been dying ever since it was first conceived in 1999 or thereabouts.

    Arguments range all the way from the fact that it is useless in light of Twitter and Facebook, that it never managed to jump the gap, that people simply can't use it and that it all looks like RSS readers are being shut off left and right. Signs of great decay left and right, let's abandon the poor thing completely and let it die in peace right?

    But there is one very very important thing that everybody is missing: RSS is not a user-facing technology. Just like the semantic web, it was never meant to be something people actually use.

    RSS is essentially one big hack, a pretty good way of having content delivered to you without specifically going out there and looking for it. Even though, essentially, that's exactly what your RSS reader does. It's got a list of websites it checks every so often and then gets back to you with the results. In that regard it's essentially a bunch of bookmarks, you're just not tending to them yourself. It's just a bit easier for a computer to read xml than a website. With pubsubhubbub the way this is done has changed a little, but no biggie.

    Ok, so RSS is a content distribution technology for computers.

    Now, we all know that as technologies go, there needs to be that one killer feature that trumps all alternatives right?

    Well twitter's got one, the communication protocol is dead simple, simpler than phones. Great!

    And facebook's got one too, they're a bit of everything, not very simple, but everyone's got a facebook so you're not leaving any time soon because you're locked. Great!

    What does RSS have?

    Well, it's got geeks. Lots and lots and lots of hardcore geeks. Did you know geeks produce the most content on social networks? How do you think stuff gets on your twitter and your facebook? Somebody's got to post it there before it can go viral. That someone likely found out via RSS. Sure this can be automated, but then you've just ruined the most important part of consuming content via twitter or facebook - the social filtering.

    But there's an even more important feature to RSS.

    Infinite scalability. Infinite distributability.

    Both twitter and facebook are tied to a single provider. Twitter's servers go down and all you see is a failwhale. No content for you. Imagine, for example, a huge earthquake hits california. Now suddenly both twitter's and facebook's data centers are offline. No content.

    But RSS would bravely go on working perfectly. Some sites might not be able to update, but the rest of the world wouldn't even notice a glitch. Everything just works smoothly.

    Basically I guess what I'm saying is the same as Dave Winer. RSS is here to stay, somebody just needs to step up to the plate and make an RSS reader for people.

    Enhanced by Zemanta

    Did you enjoy this article?

    Published on September 14th, 2010 in Dave Winer, Facebook, Feed Readers, Online Communities, RSS, Social network, Technology, Twitter, Uncategorized,

    Learned something new?
    Want to become an expert?

    Here's how it works 👇

    Leave your email and I'll send you thoughtfully written emails every week about React, JavaScript, and your career. Lessons learned over 20 years in the industry working with companies ranging from tiny startups to Fortune5 behemoths.

    Join Swizec's Newsletter

    And get thoughtful letters 💌 on mindsets, tactics, and technical skills for your career. Real lessons from building production software. No bullshit.

    "Man, love your simple writing! Yours is the only newsletter I open and only blog that I give a fuck to read & scroll till the end. And wow always take away lessons with me. Inspiring! And very relatable. 👌"

    ~ Ashish Kumar

    Join 15,161+ engineers just like you already growing their careers with my emails, workshops, books, and courses.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨
    4.5 stars average rating

    Have a burning question that you think I can answer? Hit me up on twitter and I'll do my best.

    Who am I and who do I help? I'm Swizec Teller and I turn coders into engineers with "Raw and honest from the heart!" writing. No bullshit. Real insights into the career and skills of a modern software engineer.

    Want to become a true senior engineer? Take ownership, have autonomy, and be a force multiplier on your team. The Senior Engineer Mindset ebook can help 👉 swizec.com/senior-mindset. These are the shifts in mindset that unlocked my career.

    Curious about Serverless and the modern backend? Check out Serverless Handbook, for frontend engineers 👉 ServerlessHandbook.dev

    Want to Stop copy pasting D3 examples and create data visualizations of your own? Learn how to build scalable dataviz React components your whole team can understand with React for Data Visualization

    Want to get my best emails on JavaScript, React, Serverless, Fullstack Web, or Indie Hacking? Check out swizec.com/collections

    Want to brush up on modern JavaScript syntax? Check out my interactive cheatsheet: es6cheatsheet.com

    Did someone amazing share this letter with you? Wonderful! You can sign up for my weekly letters for software engineers on their path to greatness, here: swizec.com/blog

    Want to brush up on your modern JavaScript syntax? Check out my interactive cheatsheet: es6cheatsheet.com

    By the way, just in case no one has told you it yet today: I love and appreciate you for who you are ❤️

    Created by Swizec with ❤️