I’m not the first person to think about this. Yesterday I read an article that stated Twitter shouldn’t replace your RSS reader. However the reason given is exactly why Twitter might start replacing the more traditional way of viewing RSS feeds. What most early adopters and hardcore geeks never seem to figure out. Is that everyday people don’t use products and services in the same way they do. In the early days of RSS even smart people had no idea what it was. Mostly because the geeks who understood it played an elitist game.
Many times when someone understands something you don’t they treat you like you are stupid. These people would tell you there is no such thing as a stupid question then insult you behind your back for asking something they felt was dumb. This is how the early adopters of RSS treated those who didn’t fully get the hype. Once again in some ways we are seeing this in regards to Twitter.
Now that Twitter hype has started to go mainstream everyone is trying to show you the “right” way to use the service. Even going so far as to develop rules of use. Granted I’m all for basic common sense standards. But I don’t think there can be a set right or wrong way to put Twitter to use. Because what each person wants out of it is slightly different.
For me Twitter has replaced the RSS reader. There are several reasons for this. One being I’ve started using SeaMonkey as my browser and at this point the RSS integration is lacking. The RSS feed readers I’ve seen that work with SeaMonkey are to aggravating from a functionality standpoint. Not that Internet Explorer 8 offered that great of an RSS reading experience. Many readers might be screaming Google. Again I’ll skip their solution do to my past experience and not wanting to lock my data into a provider.
Although some would state that using Twitter as an RSS reader is doing exactly that. You are giving a provider access and control to your data stream. This provides them with the option to analyze this information for various purposes including monetization. Forward thinking users might need to start deciding if they want to allow someone else to make money from their data stream.
Most early adopters always seem clueless about real end users. The fact is RSS readers are normally only used by hardcore geeks. The majority of the online population would look at you with a blank stare if you asked about RSS readers. Nowadays many of these people might at least recognize the term RSS ( Really Simple Syndication ). Although the vast majority couldn’t tell you how to put RSS to use. RSS is most successful when people don’t realize that it is being used.
Your average person doesn’t care how they obtain their updates. They just want certain information when they want it. These are the type of people who don’t want to find an RSS feed then go plugging the address into a reader to then obtain updates. The average user wants a seamless experience. Meaning ease of use and functionality. What most geeks see as functional is useless garbage. Or at the very least a concept that needs greatly polished. This is one reason open source has never seen mainstream success with a large user base.
Twitter has become successful by doing things exactly the opposite of the majority. The company has kept it simple. It’s not overly complicated to figure out so new users can get started right away. Since there isn’t a ton of clutter and the concept isn’t hard to understand people use the service. This is exactly why Twitter very well could become the most popular way to read RSS feeds. Because it’s an ease of use experience. Even though customers are using RSS they don’t have to know that. All they need to know is who they want to follow. They find what interest them and hit the follow button. The large adoption rates come from making it easy for users to interact with the service.
While that concept seems so simple. Very few online offerings follow that design principle. Most are just adding more and more clutter to their design and product. Twitter has the chance to become the most popular RSS reader because people understand how to use it.
A good majority of those I previously followed using RSS haven’t made the jump to Twitter. So this in some cases has stopped me from having an easy way to obtain updates of their work. Since there will be many who don’t jump on the Twitter bandwagon. We may not see this service become the next big RSS reader. At this point I can’t see myself going back to a more traditional way of interacting with RSS. It would be nice if you could import an OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language) file into Twitter. So the service could do a search of the RSS feeds you are subscribed to and match that with the proper Twitter accounts. My thought is something like this would get hardcore geeks more interested in dropping their feed readers for Twitter.
It’s a safe bet that feed readers and services aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’s my opinion that the traditional RSS players now have a bit more competition. Your average user doesn’t want to think about what they are doing. They just want to do it and accomplish the task they set out to do. Twitter accomplishes this by making information access simple.
Some of the older links below many include dead links. Since my move from Blogware to WordPress I have tried to fix outdated links when I have time.
I couldn’t find his original Twitter comment I replied to. But the article below will do even better.