RSS feeds… a good idea that never really took off

RSS – jin tan – via Flickr

RSS (Rich Site Summary, also called Really Simple Syndication) is a means for getting headlines and summaries embedded and automatically updated in websites, blogs or an RSS reader. The idea goes back to about 1995, and several years ago it was hailed as the next big thing.

However, RSS never really took off. It is used among pros and bloggers. This blog  has RSS feeds at the right column. But social media sites like Twitter and Facebook have proved that people don’t want to merely read information. They want to interact with other people about what’s going on it the world. So again, although RSS is still found throughout the web, it’s not a fad nor social phenomenon like more recent social media platforms where you can minimally “like” and not just passively absorb information.

English: Sketch for Twitter. See also the auth...
Sketch for Twitter. See also the author’s description on Flickr. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before the internet we had “letters to the editor” for things like this. But if anyone ever tried to write to their local newspaper editor, they’d soon discover that not all letters were published. If your letters were published, they probably would be edited to fit with the newspaper’s space requirements. ¹ Also, if published, you’d have to wait about a week before seeing your feedback. Nowadays, of course, gratification is instantaneous, which raises all sorts of psychological and sociological issues about so-called “internet addiction.”

English: Data from April 2011 Editor Survey th...
Data from April 2011 Editor Survey that lists Social Media activities (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

¹ Back in the day I was an avid Moody Blues fan and wrote to a newspaper defending the group after a cynical arts critic panned one of their albums. My comment was posted but substantially edited. A sentence was shortened to begin with “And…” which I didn’t like, especially because I was at university and that sort of thing just wasn’t done back then, especially in academia.

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