Tired of Twitter? Facebook fatigued? It’s time to head back to RSS.
I’m an RSS reader lover, so I hate to admit it, but RSS ain’t going mainstream. It was too nerdy 20 years ago and it’s too nerdy now. RSS is still incredibly useful technology, but I can’t see it taking off alone.
For RSS to take off, it needs some kind of abstraction. Like Flipboard, where you can get started reading stuff right away and feeding it RSS isn’t something you need to handle manually. Apple News is kinda like that. I’m a little love/hate with Apple News though. I like reading stuff in it, but I’ve stopped publishing in it because it became too much work to get right and have it look good. It’s like managing a second site, unlike RSS which just brainlessly works when your CMS supports it. A little-known feature of Apple News was that it used to be able to function as an RSS reader, but they removed that a couple of years ago. Boooooo.
Podcasts have the right abstraction. People listen through apps that combine discoverability (or at least searchability) with the place you actually subscribe and listen. Ironically, RSS-based.
Digg has been a bit like Flipboard or Apple News: a combination of a very nice RSS reader but also curated content. They’ve just nuked their reader seemingly out of nowhere though, so clearly something wasn’t going well there. There have been so many nukings of RSS readers, it makes you wonder. Is it the XML thing? Could JSON Feed save it or does that complicate things even more? Is the business model just too hard to crack?
After the Google Reader shutdown, I had gone with Feedly for a while. I can’t even remember why now, but ultimately something bugged me about it and I ended up going with Digg. I know loads of people really love Feedly though so it’s worth a shot for those of you looking for a reader.
Someday, we’ll have to throw a feed-sharing party where we can all share our favorite feeds and fill up them readers. This site’s is at a predictable URL. Dave Winer also has a new project kinda tracking feed popularity.