If reading is FUNdamental, and the internet is mostly about reading, are we reading more or less this century compared to last century?
After all, internet usage continues to grow; users Google more than ever, so someone is reading something somewhere. Whatever happened to standalone RSS readers? Is aggregated web page reading dying a slow death? Or, is it dead already?
I didn’t get the official pronouncement, but I think RSS readers are a casualty of reading overload. Does anyone still sell a stand-alone RSS reader?
My favorite for years was NewsFire, which went free shortly after my second favorite RSS newsreader became free—NetNewsWire. See the trend? News and information in the digital age is free, so why shouldn’t the news reader be free?
Apple introduced a built-in RSS reader to Safari a few years ago. Most of my neighborly switchers use Safari for everything, but few—in my unscientific survey—use the RSS reader, or collect RSS feeds like we used to collect bookmarks.
Virtually every site anywhere within downloading distance has an RSS feed, and it’s no more difficult to collect RSS feed links than it is to collect bookmarks. I have hundreds of each; far more than empty boxes of Pampers and refrigerator magnets.
I could be wrong, and if I am, please don’t tell my husband, but my personal survey indicates that RSS is the dinosaur that doesn’t want to die. Most sites have RSS feeds, but most users, Mac or Windows, are just not into using an RSS reader to wade through all those sites.
What do most users do? Click, click, click. My neighbors click. My co-workers click. My husband clicks. Safari 4’s new Show Top Sites feature is pure eye candy for the web site reader who’s organizationally challenged.
Mac RSS readers make it easy by incorporating a browser within the reader, so it’s like having a browser with a Super Duper Double Deluxe auto bookmark auto update feature. What’s not to like? You could swim in daily RSS updates in NetNewsWire and never touch Safari.
My informal survey grew over the past week. I asked, “Do you use an RSS reader?” More often than not the replies were along the lines of, “Is that like Twitter?” or, “That’s new on the iPhone, right?”
Despite the letters R-S-S showing up on web sites everywhere, surprisingly few of my Mac and iPhone brethren and sisterthren seem to know anything at all about RSS, let alone how efficient RSS can be, and how it reduces clicks and downloads. It can’t be that difficult. My three year old can spell RSS.
I sense that there’s a subtle and growing trend going on below the surface. Maybe it’s information overload. Too many sites. Too many tweets. Too much SMS. Managing RSS feeds is akin to managing bookmarks and both are additional efforts, while click, click, click is easy (despite the inefficiency).
Whatever it is, RSS management is an effort worth itself ten times over. Do you manage RSS feeds? Do you use a standalone RSS reader or Safari (or, Firefox) instead? What prevents you from using an RSS feed reader? Spill your guts in the Comments section below. I have baby wipes.