Sunday, February 12, 2006

RSS does not stand for Really Simple Stupid

Ok, so I can’t spell.
But, a lot more people just don’t get RSS feeds and all the wonderful things that come with it.
Several recent posts from the likes of Fred Wilson, Dave Winer, and Dion Hinchcliffe are furthering the debate about how to turn RSS into a universally adopted web technology.
The whole point of RSS is to make syndication really simple, not only for publishers, but for subscribers/users as well. That's the rub — most users aren't aware of what RSS is, let alone how to subscribe to feeds, how to use a feed reader, or why either of those things are worth their trouble. As Winer argues, getting RSS to "bust out" is a two step process. First, make RSS feeds even easier to find. Second, create a subscription service that's public, centralized, and has OPML integration. This would allow users to collect all of their feeds in one place and access them from any browser.
Strong theories. I'm sure that the big net companies would be willing to adopt a framework that allows that kind of functionality with a little bit of goading from the RSS big-wigs. Personally, I can see browser-based RSS tools becoming the magic link that will draw a lot of the casual users in. The browser, being a tool that everyone on the web is already familiar with, is the ultimate pathway for mass adoption of web-based technologies. Marry a strong RSS experience in the browser with a killer web service that makes feeds portable and searchable, and you can get RSS over the hump. Or, maybe the key is further standardization. Most non-web-savvy users will adpot a technology more quickly when there are only two or three choices for software/service instead of forty.
Either way, I'd wager that the release of Internet Explorer 7 will open a great many eyes to the glory of RSS.
Posted by michael calore


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