RSS Killed The Infoglut Star?

from the am-I-missing-something? dept

Here is yet another article raving about how RSS changes how they get information. I’ve heard this same story so many times that I’m a bit confused. I keep trying the various RSS readers, and I just haven’t been hooked. I use them for a few days, and then realize that my old method of surfing websites was much more enjoyable and much more efficient. I’ve been told that I’m not a serious follower of news if I don’t use an RSS reader – but I’ve yet to find an RSS reader that does more than a multi-browsing tool, tabbed browsing, or just plain old bookmarks. I like looking at the actual websites, and I like the ease with which I can find a URL. Hunting for an RSS link is a pain for me. About the only thing an RSS aggregator seems to have going for it, is the “push” aspect. But, I’ve been down that path before with Pointcast, and I went back to websurfing eventually (as did everyone else). The only area in which I’d see push being superior is for information that is infrequently updated – and then I’d probably prefer an email. So, since the religion seems to be so universal, and since I’d like to think I’m open minded about these things, I’m asking if someone can explain to me why RSS is better than other solutions for keeping on top of various news sites. Clearly, I’m missing something. I’ll also suggest that, while it seems to be part of the blogger religion, I don’t know anyone outside of that realm who has the slightest clue about RSS. The very idea of RSS/XML feeds seems to confuse (if not scare) most non-blogging/non-techie people I’ve spoken to about this. They understand URLs and the web, and once you start going beyond that, they wonder why… and I’m starting to wonder why as well. I have no problem providing an RSS feed – and I can see how it’s useful for syndicating content to publish on another site, but I’m wondering what I’m missing from the personal user side of things. Clearly, I’m missing something, since the blogging world seems to assume that everyone must use an aggregator.

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Comments on “RSS Killed The Infoglut Star?”

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Mike (profile) says:


Try Newsgator, it is an RSS aggregator that ties directly into outlook. Much easier to have outlook open on the desktop all the time then to be alt tabbing through 3 or 4 different programs

Except that I don’t use Outlook… Oh well. I’ve tried Newsgator, and after a few days, I still felt that the browser was a better solution.

Peter (user link) says:

Re: Re: RSS

I find the browser to be better for sites with very rich media. The majority, however, work fine in NewsGator for me.

However, I should note that I work in the “corporate world”, where we live in Outlook. Thus, NewsGator works nicely, particularly when coupled with Outlook 2003’s advanced search and sort features. I see and read a lot more articles now then when I tried to browse each site in the browser. It wasn’t uncommon for me to have 30 browser windows open, working my way around the web!

That also sucked up a lot of my time, so I would sometimes skip sites (and even days) of posts. Now it’s all there for me to see or, if need be, search.

James says:

Lots of people are using readers

I would guess that if you turned off the RSS feed for techdirt, readership would go down by more than 50%. IMHO, it is not that the interface is that great, it is for those of us that follow so many feeds, it is a huge time saver to look at your list and know which sites have been updated and to be able to read excerpts or full postings by choice.


Katherine says:


For me, the big advantage of an aggregator (I use NewzCrawler) is that it “reads” sites in background and caches them locally. So the wait to connect to a site happens while I do something else. Also, by presenting all of the headlines in one list, it’s easy for me to skim through and read only the interesting items.

Con Tendem (user link) says:

Gator ate my RSS, but I crawled the newz and found

Funny. You got me hooked on the RSS thing and now are not sure about it yourself. First off — various newsreaders have autodiscovery features, and thus if a site has a standard type rss/xml feed they discover it automatically. No more hunting for 90% of RSS feeds.
I have to agree with you that at the moment most newsreaders are glorified bookmark managers with a hook. Some hook into outlook (NewsGator). Some let you look at newsgroups, blogs, and websites through the same interface (NewzCrawler). But some are beginning to evolve some new tools (NewsMonster) like trust/rating relationships, link universe aggregation and personalized news analysis. If you set aside a part of your day to specifically go through your favourites, you might not derive so much benefit from nes aggregators, at least not yet. But if you like to look at things fairly often, if for short periods of time, they are a great solution. I was getting rather bogged down with a large number of sites to read, and NewzCrawler has helped me to significantly decrease the effort of wondering *where* new articles are posted, prior to loading up sites in some sort of sequence. The abstracts also help me deal with a large number of feeds I find somewhat amusing but in general not worth reading in their entirety. I may read most of what you publish here, but no necessarily everything someone else writes. If I get a sports or movie review feed, I can easily tune out a large number of uninteresting to me entrees and zero in on the ones I like.

Esme says:

Use a tabbed browser

I too find that RSS aggregators doesn’t cut it for me. That is possibly because I have a good system going with a tabbed browser that allows me to store groups of URLs which can then be opened together (while I read some of the other pages I have open). So I can have a “start the day” group, and then later open a group consisting of my favourite set of blogs, or a picked subset of tech news sites or whatever. Clicking my way through the tabs doesn’t take much longer than reading down an aggregated list, and I get a lot more context to make decisions about what to concentrate on.

Adam Stiles keeps updating NetCaptor frequently, and it is nifty software. I find it does the job better than Opera, say.

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