Is RSS Dead Yet?

So I’m building these web apps in my spare time (because that’s what I do), and I’m adding RSS feeds for certain types of updates, et cetera. But when I think of my immediate friends & family, I don’t picture them using RSS. Not everyone can be so serious about computers, I guess.

So, on a whim, I type into Google something like “Who uses RSS?” But all the articles start with something more like “Who uses RSS any more?

As if it were a fad.

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RSS Feed Reader Shootout

You could say that I was shocked and horrified when Google announced that they’re going to take Google Reader out behind the barn and give it the Old Yeller treatment. It’s not an exaggeration to say that with the possible exception of whatever editor I’m using to write code these days, Google Reader has been the piece of software that I use most on a daily basis.

My Google Reader stats as of right now.

My Google Reader stats as of right now.

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RSS Gets the Last Laugh

RSS

I have a confession: I’m a recovering webcomics addict. I used to follow up to fifty at a time, and I have a couple hundred bookmarked, which is not to speak of those disqualified. As you might imagine, this takes up a lot of time.

I finally managed to suppress this problem, but during the struggle I tried using RSS as a sort of “crutch of denial,” though it took a while to get to that point. For years I saw that RSS was available on many sites, but I didn’t understand what it was good for, since all it really does is relist a site’s content in a summarized form. I didn’t get it, especially since visiting the sites directly was usually a better experience. Also, there used to be some forking of the RSS format, which doesn’t help anything. But eventually I became curious enough to find that RSS could reduce the time it took to keep up with fifty webcomics since it meant I didn’t need to even visit a site unless RSS told me there was something new there.

However, using RSS ended up backfiring in a way. (more…)