Why RSS (aka “non-social syndication”) is better & here to stay

Over the last two years (longer?) I’ve seen a debate pop up that usually starts with a comment like this:

RSS is dead! Long live Twitter/Facebook!

Most recently on TechCrunch (via HN). What I don’t understand is why people are missing the point of how people use social networks. The argument that “RSS is dead” centers around the twitter streams being so well curated, so they don’t need RSS Readers to deliver them content or news. Did you miss that? These people are deciding to use social networks as their means of news syndication. Doesn’t anyone else think that’s backwards?

I see two streams of content. On one side I have my social graph, all the people or companies that I think are so dang interesting I must hang on their every word. Then on the other side I have my news syndication, all the websites that I think are reliable enough to deliver enough well edited news. The way I see these two streams is oil and water. You can put them in the same bucket, but they aren’t going to mix.

Social networks may be driving more traffic than traditional article syndication, but in my opinion putting all your eggs into the social graph is folly. Consider this: when people interact with the content stream you are in, you now compete with every one of their relatives and friends that are also in that stream. Personally, I would rather someone opt-in to my content in a Reader fashion, where I’m competing with only other news, and not Granma’s new puppy, Farmville updates, or my buddy’s drunken photos. If/when content providers realize that, they will continue to push rss/email subscription over twitter followers.

“RSS is here to stay you say?” yep. It’s here to stay. Maybe it won’t be “RSS”, maybe it won’t be in a “Reader”, but people are going to continue to gravitate to a content stream that is only content, and not social. Not all of us have a “curated” social steam, or the interest to build one. Anyway someone has to find all that content in the first place. We can’t all survive on just stuff that goes “viral”. It may be an ebb and flow. But as one stream provides less quality people will move back to the other. But go away? No, never. Wane in traffic percentage? Duh, don’t be stupid.

2 thoughts on “Why RSS (aka “non-social syndication”) is better & here to stay

  1. If you stick to your catered Google results and your social graph, your perspective becomes almost solipsistic. Your seeing what YOU want to see by default and not all the interesting things that you could have seen in the old raw web 1.0 world. I almost feel like I’m missing out on something for no good reason other than Google is afraid to upset me with weird results.

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