Is RSS Really Dead?

I'm usually the last guy to know, and the first to admit it, but is RSS really dead? I keep seeing posts claiming Twitter and Facebook have essentially replaced RSS as the way folks filter their news these days, but I for one am still addicted to my RSS client…

IMy Shrook.png‘m usually the last guy to know, and the first to admit it, but is RSS really dead? I keep seeing posts claiming Twitter and Facebook have essentially replaced RSS as the way folks filter their news these days, but I for one am still addicted to my RSS client (it’s Shrook, for anyone who still cares).  

Perhaps RSS isn’t dead, but instead it’s professionalizing. It’s the Beta to the VHS of Twitter. Higher quality, better signal, but more expensive in terms of time, and used only by folks “in the industry.”

I write, every single day (especially with Signal), and I consume a lot of feeds in order to do that. I need a professional tool that lets me do that efficiently, and so far nothing beats an RSS reader. But I’m serious about my feeds, and most folks, I guess aren’t.

Or are you? I mean, sure, Feedburner is languishing over at Google, I hear, but

Potemkim or Real.pnghell, I have 207,000 readers consuming my feed, at least, that’s what Google tells me. And that’s up from about 170K earlier this year. Are you out there, RSS readers? Or am I blasting XML into a ghost town?

Just wonderin. Shout out if you’re here, guys. And shout out if you’re reading this because someone pointed to it on Twitter….

145 thoughts on “Is RSS Really Dead?”

  1. Hi John, Great article. I follow you via Twitter but agree RSS can be more efficient in some realms. You may have encouraged me to use it more often.

  2. I am addicted to rss also. I used shrook (shout out!) for 2 years, but switched to google reader for the ease of switching between different os computers (only two, but multiple oses on both).

    I find the way rss allows me to categorize things in folders, so I can put a whole industry under one folder, and read all the blog titles of that extremely useful.

    I even have an interesting folder, for when I need a mental break, that puts a little xkcd and boing boing into my life. For people who can scan large amounts of text to find golden nuggets, I think rss will continue to be a standard log into the future.

    Glad to hear there are other rss addicts out there πŸ™‚

  3. I couldn’t live without Google Reader/RSS. There’s a big difference in the kind of stuff I share in Reader and in the kind of stories I share in FB – and it’s mostly quality of content, and the readership.

    Interesting, insightful news stories and maybe a little humor = Reader/RSS. Readers who see my shared items in GReader know it’s meant for scholastic, political or incendiary news. They also know they don’t have to read it.

    Stupid internet humor = Facebook. I don’t want to spam my captive audience with “real” stuff, because to most of them, I’m not that guy.

  4. Getting informed by Twitter is like drinking from the Ganges. The “professionalized” thesis seems to be born out: myself and the several dozen people I know read RSS for professional needs.

    On that note, please continue blasting XML – this here Google Reader user if nothing if not eternally grateful. πŸ˜‰

  5. We’re here! Love my RSS feeds and although I find lots of new interesting things on Twitter, I like to use Google Reader for all my daily reads (sources with consistent quality and insights, like your blog – thanks!) without being distracted by all those noisy tweets.

  6. I’ve been using RSS since Google Reader was released, and I’ve been hopelessly hooked ever since. I can’t imagine the web without it. I have dozens of RSS feed subscriptions… it’s tantamount to _always_ having something to read.

    For the record, I think Twitter’s signal-to-noise ratio is what makes it unusable for me.

  7. I read tons of news in Google Reader. I’m more interested in medium to long articles rather than one or two sentences on twitter.

  8. Google Reader is still a huge part of my content consumption, and I read this in my feed. I follow you on Twitter, actually, but the signal to noise ratio on RSS is better for me. I read at least every headline on GR, and miss most tweets. Of course, this is due to the fact that I follow waaay to many people (791), but such is life.

  9. Oh yeah we are here..

    we are in more places now but certainly read it through greader also. Much easier and simple for reading important stuff.

    p.s. if you get 207000 comments now would be really funny πŸ™‚

  10. Nice piece, I too like so many came to this page via the gateway to information that is Google Reader. On my desktop I use Google Reader and on the move the iPhone app – Reeder.

    I don’t think I could possible contemplate life with out RSS feeds. The way I can easily categorise and manage the sheer volume of information out there and have a ease of archiving, highlighting (starred items)and sharing makes RSS a permanent feature in my online life.

    With regards to the use of Twitter and Facebook to filter the information we digest I am pleased that RSS has a level of uncertainty of content and therefore broadens my scope of reference rather than limits it.

  11. Nice piece, I too like so many came to this page via the gateway to information that is Google Reader. On my desktop I use Google Reader and on the move the iPhone app – Reeder.

    I don’t think I could possible contemplate life with out RSS feeds. The way I can easily categorise and manage the sheer volume of information out there and have a ease of archiving, highlighting (starred items)and sharing makes RSS a permanent feature in my online life.

    With regards to the use of Twitter and Facebook to filter the information we digest I am pleased that RSS has a level of uncertainty of content and therefore broadens my scope of reference rather than limits it.

  12. Every time I see “Is RSS dead?” it gives me the fear that somebody will take my beloved feeds away πŸ™

    I consume 90%+ of my internets by RSS.

  13. I’ve been using a newsreader (NetNewsReader) for ever and found the noise level on Twitter waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too loud. Your comparison of beta to VHS is well taken-VHS was crap and beta was, well, better.

  14. hooked to RSS.
    although I have way (way) too many feeds in my Google Reader, and I get bombed with new information every day, I still find the signal to noise ratio better on RSS than on FB (don’t use Twitter at all)

    RSS has turned into one of my main access points to the web – if a site isn’t in my rss list, chances are that I won’t return to it again.

  15. I’m reading this from twitter. πŸ™‚

    In my opinion it’s not dead, but the demographic is changing. While twitter is cutting edge for news, many people are far behind the times. Most people I know in real life don’t tweet, but they do use Facebook and more and more are reading blogs.

    Feedburner is somewhat erratic with numbers and tracking, so as a blogger I rely less on it than I did a year ago.

    I personally only use a feedreader for clients but for blogging inspiration I go to twitter.

  16. I both found and read your blog through google reader. It’s a really easy way to sort and browse a large amount of content.

  17. Google Reader has been my primary source of content for years, and remains such even now that I spend a lot of time on Facebook and Twitter. It’s where I read this blog from.

    Of course, I take all the stuff that I find interesting from my feeds and share them on Twitter and Facebook, where my friends and family–who do not use feed readers–benefit from my obsessive compulsive content consumption.

  18. Put me down as another RSS fan, with hundreds of feeds I monitor daily. Twitter is great if I want to know what somebody had for lunch (in 140 characters or less), but RSS is a professional tool. I can’t imagine life without it.

  19. Twitter and FB don’t even come close to doing what RSS does for me, where I get to timeshift all my favorite authors’ best writing. RSS revolutionized the way I use the Internet. Twitter and FB revolutionized how I don’t use it.

  20. Shout out from a Google Reader user here! I am serious about feeds as well, but I also recognize that no one I know outside of the tech/internet industry uses RSS at all, and most don’t even know what it is. I’ve been calling Twitter “RSS for Dummies” for a while now, and I still think it’s pretty accurate, and Facebook’s “Like” system is essentially the same thing except for their extra level of filtering on the feed.

    I am surprised though, that Twitter still doesn’t have an interface that makes feed reading as easy as Google Reader. I’d have to have a much more powerful Twitter reader than anything I’ve seen to give up my RSS reader. Tweetdeck and Seesmic just aren’t built that way. Perhaps that’s the next pothole to be filled…

  21. I’m coming from Google Reader myself.

    Someone will probably need to release my hold on my RSS feeds from my cold, dead, hands.

  22. You made me click out of Google Reader for this?
    only kidding John, RSS is still alive and well, at least over here.
    Keep up the good work!

  23. RSS isn’t dead it’s just no longer the shiny new thing. RSS readers like Google Reader appeal to a niche market and while Twitter may be enough to pull away some users for others the services are complementary.

    I use RSS everyday, but don’t use Twitter.

  24. I’m using River of News via GReader.

    RSS requires discipline.

    Also I can’t see how Facebook can be my go to place for news if the people I’m connected to are not really interested in the exact same thing I am. Maybe it’s a sin of eclecticism.

  25. I use Google Reader, which is how I “follow” your blog.

    With Twitter, I sample from time to time and don’t worry if I miss something. I don’t want to miss what you post on your blog!

    Every account on Twitter has an associated RSS feed, so you can subscribe to it if you really don’t want to miss a particular person’s tweets.

  26. Here’s why Twitter isn’t even competitive with RSS for me. With RSS, I click or tap the title in the feed reader, and I see the post instantly. (I don’t subscribe to partial-post feeds, and only a few things like iframe’d widgets don’t make it into full-post feeds.) With Twitter, I click a link and am taken, usually with some delay, to a web site, which often isn’t specialized for mobile devices (I mostly read on my phone while in transit, a good way to redeem the time). Although I could probably get a Twitter client such as TweetDeck to replicate much of the other functionality of Google Reader, the lack of instantly accessible, mobile-readable versions of what I want to read makes Twitter a nonstarter for news reading as far as I’m concerned. I do use Twitter – since 2007 – but it’s absolutely not a replacement for RSS.

  27. Hopping on to get counted as another one of your dedicated RSS reader.

    I work as an Editor at Techmeme and confess I couldn’t live without Google Reader to catch up on the news.

    I once wrote about something most people miss: Twitter will never completely replace RSS, as long as the world goes round and there’s night and day. Twitter gives me a great snapshot of what’s happening now, but RSS gives me a high signal in the morning of what happened during the night.

  28. I use RSS for reading news, and Facebook/Twitter to see what my friends are up to. As far as I can tell, that is what both are best at.

  29. Twitter is too noisy. Your tweet is lost in the sea of hundreds of other tweets in the same moment. My Google Reader is set up to show me exactly what I want to see.

    Want something new? Then Twitter is great, but for catching up with old favorites, RSS can’t be beaten.

  30. I used Google Reader to view this post, and really I still use it because I feel as if I have more control over what I want to see in Google Reader than I do with Twitter. Everyone I follow on Twitter has something interesting to say about 65% of the time, while on Google Reader I can see what I want to see around 90% of the time. Twitter does really have too much noise. There definitely needs to be something else that replaces RSS, because 140 characters isn’t going to cut it.

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