Genealogy & Social Networking Technologies #5- RSS Feeds

RSS Feeds are one of the most stable and long running social tools on the web. As might be expected it is one of the two I started using first and the one for which I had the highest expectations.

As luck would have it , RSS feeds have been largely a disappointment for me. RSS feeds have been around for probably longer than any of the tools in my little survey. For most folks, RSS seems to be both a very reliable and stable method of retransmitting blogs to broad ‘external’ audiences, using an information ‘push’ toolset; meaning I push (send) my content out to you the reader and onto your machine (obviously with your permission, but nonetheless I push).

To quote the ever famous Wikipedia:

RSS (most commonly expanded as Really Simple Syndication) is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format. An RSS document (which is called a “feed”, “web feed”, or “channel”) includes full or summarized text, plus metadata such as publishing dates and authorship. Web feeds benefit publishers by letting them syndicate content automatically. They benefit readers who want to subscribe to timely updates from favored websites or to aggregate feeds from many sites into one place.

Like most people, I use feeds to syndicate my content. Which is to say every time I write a ManyRoads posting or page, like this one, off it goes into the ether AND anyone connected to my feed gets a copy. It is a great idea; and the folks a Google Feeds who push my content around probably thought so too, at one time. However, today I have 6 times fewer RSS feed readers than I do twitter followers. My RSS feed readers are numbered in the 10s not the hundreds.

Given those statistics I have to assume one of few items either my content is poorly suited to RSS or more folks rely on twitter to connect them to the content they seek. My sense is that my latter assumption is most likely the case.

In truth, I will keep using RSS, because it is easy to use; and, there are folks who seem to like it. But, I have to think that RSS’ days are numbered and that RSS is a medium in decline.