Friday Five: RIP, RSS?

RSS-2Maybe you heard the recent ballyhoo about the death of the RSS reader. And maybe you heard about it via your RSS reader, as I did. Ah, the irony.

The story took one news item — the announced shutdown of one RSS reader, Bloglines — and extrapolated that news into the entire RSS universe. And so the RSS reader, the humble workhorse behind the scenes of so much shared content, became the latest web tool to fall victim to the [InsertNameOfSocialMediaToolHere] is dead meme mill. (Remind you of anything?)

But the rumors of RSS’s death are greatly exaggerated. True, the use of traditional RSS readers is down (visits to Google Reader, which I use, are down 27 percent year-over-year), but that doesn’t mean people have given up on the service altogether.

Yes, with the advent of Twitter, I rely less on Google Reader. But it still holds value for me. Here are five reasons why:

1. News from trusted connections. With the crapflood of information coming at me via Twitter, Facebook, RSS and so many other sources, I rely on a cadre of “editors” (or curators, if you prefer) who share good information with their Google Reader connections. You know how I found out about this GigaOm article countering the RSS-is-dead meme? Via two of my trusted Google Reader connections: Georgy Cohen and Joe Bonner. I also subscribe to GigaOM’s feeds but I didn’t have to wade into that stream. Georgy and Joe shared an item of interest from that stream to me. Pretty neat.

2. Searchability. If I want to find out what my RSS sources are saying about a subject, the Google search engine does the work for me. Below is a screenshot of a search for the term “RSS is dead.” Click to enlarge.

A Google Reader search for "RSS Is Dead"

RSS-43. Customization. I love the fact that I can organize my subscriptions into different categories.

Here’s a peek at my RSS feeds folders. Everything is in its right place. All feeds are neatly tucked away into the right folder. Some single feeds are tucked away into multiple folders, which is another neat feature. So, blogs about higher ed marketing or higher ed PR show up in both “higher ed” and in “marketing” or “PR.”

(Click the image at right to enlarge.)

4. Sharing bonus content. Thanks to the Google Reader widget (the “Andrew’s Shared Items” box you see in the left sidebar of this blog), I can share selected, additional content from my Google feeds with readers of this blog. That way, in addition to seeing my posts, you have the opportunity to check out some of the other things I’m reading that I think may be of value to you. While most of the shared items are relevant to the general topic of this blog, I do post occasional diversions, such as this YouTube video of a talented acoustic guitarist/singer’s cover of a great song from the new Arcade Fire album. (I know that a few of you are fellow Arcade Fire fans, so I thought perhaps you might enjoy this discovery.)

5. Music. I used to try to follow a lot of music blogs. Now whenever I want to check out what’s new in the indie music scene, I just open my “Music” folder in Google Reader to get the latest from a dozen or so respected music blogs.

So, no, RSS is not dead yet. At least not for me.

What about you?

Happy Friday, and for readers in the U.S., Happy Constitution Day.

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Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

6 thoughts on “Friday Five: RIP, RSS?”

  1. Don’t forget about using it in Twittersearch as well for your keywords! :)

    RSS is so not dead! Its like having an assistant for me, doing research on a number of valuable areas.

    Thanks for bringing this to light. :)

  2. Nice post, Andrew.

    Maybe I’m just old school, but I still consume much of my web content through Google Reader, whether it’s RSS feeds, Google News Alerts or Twitter search feeds. I personally just find it much easier to navigate and filter through than other options like Twitter, Delicious or Digg. Also, I might be in the minority, but I actually like Google Buzz too.

    I use the sharing features in Google Reader quite a bit. It’s a great way to get information to and from people who may not necessarily be on Twitter.

    This is just my opinion, but I find that tools like Twitter are great for getting information from random strangers while Google Reader/Buzz have become my go-to sources for reading my favorite news sources, as well as sharing and consuming information from a much closer group of friends and colleagues.

  3. Thanks for the mention — sharing via Google Reader is one of my favorite ways to share info. I, too, have my shared content embedded in the right sidebar of my blog.

    I second Jess and Dan — Google Reader is my social media monitoring station, and it works wonders.

    It’s funny. Certain blogs — like Chris Brogan, Julien Smith, Christopher Penn and others — I don’t bother subscribing to via RSS, because I know the cream will rise to the top via Twitter. But the ones that are either highly topical to me or where I definitely do not want to miss a post, I pop into my Google Reader.

    I compiled a list of Google Reader pro tips for WorkAwesome a while back that folks may find interesting: http://workawesome.com/productivity/blog-reading-google-reader/

  4. I love Google Reader! And I agree with Jess. Google Reader is an easy way to keep an eye out on topics of interest. It is great for keeping up with trends, social networks, fads, important topics floating around the web.

    It is also nice to see what others find important in the shared content that you mention Andrew. From a follower’s point of view, it is good to know what others are reading and commenting on.

    I have been using Google Reader for awhile now and don’t want to think about how work would be without Google Reader. Shameless plug for those on Google Reader – http://www.google.com/reader/shared/emgonline1

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