With our recent posts on RSS, I figured I’d weigh in with a quick opinion of my own. I know its heretical for a blogger to say so, but I think RSS is vastly over-hyped. To that end, I’m happy to point out Dave Taylor’s recent post where he points out an obvious truth: most RSS readers suck.
Here’s a brave admission: I don’t use any RSS reader. I haven’t for a couple of years. I tried various ones here and there, but ultimately I come back to the fact that I just don’t have time to keep up with all that information, and I’m an information junkie, blogger and researcher. I don’t know how the rest of you do it. I have simply don’t have an extra hour every day to scan the posts of the 200 blogs I love. I barely have time to read the industry sites that cover my sector (Internet advertising). Basically, I try to scan MarketingVOX daily, and then spend 2-3 hours with email and then, if I have any time left, I try to actually do some work. I’d love to read more blogs, but where do you fit it in? I’m sleeping only six hours a night as it is. I’m a drop-by blog reader; I cycle through my favorites here and there where I have time andbrowse their archives.
But it’s one thing for a blogger to admit this (and those who follow my blogging know that I’m also a catch-as-catch-can blogger, not a daily machine like some people). But what the hell does an ordinary person need with RSS? A blogger, a trend watcher, a journalist, or just info junkies, I can see the point of why they use RSS. But that accounts for the 5% of the population that already uses RSS. Why on earth would my mom need an RSS reader?
Here’s what baffles me most about RSS and the blogosphere: for all the excitement about about RSS as a reader subscription feature, it’s been virtually ignored by blog software tools as a true syndication mechanism. Why isn’t it a standard feature of every blog publishing tool that you can customize the resyndication of your other favorite blogs? E.g., I’d like flexible controls to put in the margin of my blogs up-to-the-minute headlines (or short posts, or long posts) from my favorite five (or 10, or 20) blogs. I tried to do this two years ago and all I found was some university hack. I suspect there are (but don’t actually know of) some more mature widgets out there that let you do this now, as I’ve seen it here and there on other blogs, but it’s certainly not widespread. It would be like blogrolling on crack. Seems like a no-brainer. Is there a WordPress plug-in for that?
(Of course, what blog publishing tools really need is the ability to aggregate posts and publishing them as an email newsletter, but, as Molly Shannon memorably said, don’t even get me started…)