the big boys vs RSS

Good discussion at adactio about RSS and its enemies (hat tip naked capitalism).

It’s not like RSS is a great format—it isn’t. But it’s just good enough and just versatile enough to enable non-programmers to make something cool. In that respect, it’s kind of like HTML.

The official line from Twitter is that RSS is “infrequently used today.” That’s the same justification that Google has given for shutting down Google Reader. It reminds of the joke about the shopkeeper responding to a request for something with “Oh, we don’t stock that—there’s no call for it. It’s funny though, you’re the fifth person to ask today.”


In a post called The True Web, Robin Sloan reiterates the strength of RSS: "It will dip and diminish, but will RSS ever go away? Nah. One of RSS’s weaknesses in its early days—its chaotic decentralized weirdness—has become, in its dotage, a surprising strength. RSS doesn’t route through a single leviathan’s servers. It lacks a kill switch." I can understand why that power could be seen as a threat if what you are trying to do is force your users to consume their own data only the way that you see fit (and all in the name of “user experience”, I’m sure).

A feed reader is still a good way to follow non-social-media sites that post infrequently (so you don't have to keep checking them); a collection of these "indies" is strong intellectual medicine in a web fast becoming homogenized and company-fied. In the next few days, ahead of the Google Reader shutdown, I'll post a handful of feed-reader alternatives.

Also of interest are Anil Dash's posts on The Web We Lost and rebuilding it.