Web Worker Daily is asking a question that a number of people have asked during 2009, and that is – Is Twitter replacing the rss reader? Interestingly another blogger Jeff Tucker did a post yesterday entitled RSS Isn’t Dead, So Better Organize Your Feed Reader
I think the answer to WWD’s question probably depends on who you are and what you were using an rss reader for in the first place. For example in the WWD piece Mike McClure says “All but one of my news sites make announcements on Twitter anyway, so I don’t need to check yet another news source. If the news is big enough, it’ll be circulated enough that I’ll find out soon enough anyway.”
This seems fair enough if you are just looking for high level news from major sites, and as Dave Riddel says in the comments, Twitter’s new ‘lists’ functionality could help to manage rss feeds within Twitter (although he, like me, says ‘ I prefer to use the service primarily for conversation and keep my feeds separate’)
Jeff Tucker on the other hand seems to share my view on things. I love Twitter, and it is my most used ’social network’ tool outside of email these days, however the idea that it is replacing my rss reader is, for me, a joke. Twitter will give me a headline/post title and a link to the full text. How very web 1.0. The whole reason I embraced rss and rss readers was so that I could cover more sources, more quickly and efficiently, and so that I did not have to visit every site to find out if the content was something I needed to read. Most of my rss is either full text or includes an additional 2-4 lines taster of the content so that if I do have to click out to the full text at source I am 99% certain that I need to.
Most mornings I scan through about 500-700 items – both work related and pleasure - in my reader, and can do so within an about an hour. Doing that it Twitter would take me all day, or increase the chances of my missing something I should have picked up sooner.
Jeff Tucker meanwhile says RSS is still great for the following reasons:
• Publishes blog posts, website updates and news articles from around the Web.
• Highly efficient information management tool for reading content compared with Twitter. RSS can provide the complete content with inline images, video, rather than a less informative and two-step, 140-character Tweet plus link.
• Backward compatibility means RSS content can be shared via email, where much of the world still lives.
• Many other data feeds work only with RSS. For example, I just set up a survey and its online results feed only in RSS.
While RSS is slow (compared with real-time updates), lacks great interaction capabilities, and is somewhat cumbersome to set up and use, it still plays a unique and important role.
I totally agree. Whilst good organisation is key to getting the most out of an rss reader, the capabilities, functionality – and the ability to have most of that content in ONE place, without needing to visit EVERY site, makes it invaluable for managing rss.
This is not to say Twitter shouldn’t be used for rss, but I think it is better suited perhaps to thngs such as press releases from government departments and suchlike. Maybe you disagree?
Outside of stuff like that I feel that Twitter for rss, to me, is for people that either don’t follow much or have too much time on their hands if they can afford to follow every link to check the potential relevance of that content - but maybe people just follow feeds with more accurate headlines than I do. What do people think?
[Of course, I am going to post that I blogged this on Twitter, because Twitter is a great discovery tool for people you should add to your reader]