Death of RSS?

I’ve heard mentioned in a few forums recently about the ‘Death of RSS’. I’ve been thinking about it a bit recently myself. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m referring to people no longer having time to get to the blogs and sites they subscribe to via their RSS readers. I use Google Reader for blog subscriptions but I have to admit, it’s become a long time between visits.   

Why is it so?

Simple.   Twitter.

That cool little 140 character stream of consciousness feed from the people I follow has become my most vital source of information. It is here where I discover blog posts as people filter and lead me to them, it is here where I get to know the latest and greatest next big thing, and it’s here where I can develop connections with some truly great minds who help me shape my thinking.

But this weekend was different. I laid off the twitter pursuit of new knowledge to invest some time in my Google Reader. And I’m glad I did. I read blog posts, I listened to the elongated thoughts of the people in my network and I benefited from the experience. I discovered links that hadn’t filtered through twitter. Maybe they had, but not when I was present.  Let’s face it, you can’t be there 24/7, and if you are someone who trawls back to see everything that happened while you were away, then I’m thinking it’s time to reevaluate things big time!

I still maintain that RSS is the best way to introduce people to understanding why you would want to change your practice and rethink what it means to be a teacher and a learner at this time. I think people need to read the deeper thinking of educators who are trying to harness new ways of doing things. Twitter is very fast, particularly if you follow a lot of people. It is difficult to understand its relevance when you first begin using it and it can turn people off who don’t have a good understanding of building a network.

RSS helps you build the network. Reading blogs helps you figure out who the thinkers are and they in turn lead you to the thinkers they admire. Once you’ve got a bit of a handle on the reasoning behind establishing your PLN (Personal Learning Network), you can then start following these people through twitter and build a network there.

Anyway, that’s my take on things. RSS may have lost some of its relevance with the growth of twitter, but I don’t think it’s dead. This weekend confirmed for me the need to reconnect with the deeper thinking of my network through people’s posts. Judy O’Connell linked to The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age, written by Cathy N. Davidson and David Theo Goldberg, with the help of Zoe Marie Jones.  It’s a paper that has occupied my thinking for much of this weekend. Read it, courtesy of my Google Reader!!


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8 Replies to “Death of RSS?”

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with your post. I have a limited number of blogs in my RSS, probably 50 or so. That is a relatively low number when you consider most of the people are only adding a blog post occasionally, not daily. I can stay on top of the feed pretty well as long as I visit it every couple of days at least. Another feed type connection is the “shared” posts, those you receive from your inner circle. I would like to develop that a bit more so that I can have a tighter connection with a few folks than the RSS provides.
    As much as I would like to gather in all the tweets my following produces, it would be a huge waste of time to be that connected. There is still a huge amount of information available with just an occasional visit to Twitter.
    So I will stick with the RSS and add new blogs that zero in on my interest.

  2. I’ve given this some thought in recent months, and I think the reports of the death of RSS are greatly exaggerated, at least for me.

    While I value the thoughts & opinions of folks I follow on Twitter, and often read the links they post, putting my entire online reading experience in the hands of others (crowd-sourcing?) kind of negates the whole reason I started following blogs in the first place – for more personalized, individualized control over my professional learning & growth.

    I may have 300-400 items in Google Reader at the end of any given day. It’s a good bet I won’t read all of them; some days, I may not read most of them. But I want to be able to skim what’s available and choose where to go next, not have other folks determine that for me. Also, as you said, I can’t be on Twitter 24/7. The information stream moves too fast to catch all of what comes through in a 24-hour period, but with my RSS reader, that information keeps flowing and at least stays put for a little while for me to sort through and read or discard as I deem necessary.

    1. Good point about having some control over your professional reading -feeds of your own choosing certainly help with that.

  3. My Google Reader has been getting a little less attention lately. I returned from holiday with 2000+ unread items. I marked whole swathes as read, safe in the knowledge that all my favourite websites are searchable through the Reader.

    This has become my first port of call for any search for information, closely followed by Twitter and good old fashioned Google. Although I might not have time to read every post it is satisfying to know they are all indexed in Reader, waiting for me to find them as and when they’re needed.


  4. I still like my RSS feed as my Twitter network is spread so widely across timezones that when someone tweets a new post or thought that I want to follow up I can’t because I was asleep or working at school. My RSS is there whenever I feel like reading.

    If it gets on top of me I read my favourites and mark the rest as read.

  5. While twitter PLN is hugely important in my professional life, but I could never do without a decent RSS collection. RSS saves the ‘good oil’ for when you have time!! Plus a fabulous reader like Feedly makes the task even enjoyable – and the bonus is that is synchs with Google Reader if you want to use it to search for conversations on topics or do other things that Google Reader is good for!
    RSS is not dead yet – but it’s evolving. You’re right though Jenny, we need to keep spotting the changes and moving along with the shifts.

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