January 26th, 2011
For the last few years I’ve been hearing chatter that RSS “is dead”, yet, I still continue to use it every single day. So, I thought – lets turn this crap on its head. Lets bring RSS “back” by teaching at least one friend how to use it.
The vast majority of people that surf the Internet on a daily basis are going to but a few sites. They wake up in the morning, check Facebook, Twitter, CNN, and perhaps one or two other sites – turn on the TV, check those sites again, do some household chores, check those sites again, and so on. Its absurd. They are so silo-ed they don’t even realize what they’re missing.
There are hundreds of millions of websites. If these same people were to check say, a few hundred websites per day, they’d be able to get little else done. Who wants to visit a few hundred URLs on a daily basis just to see what’s new?
Well, that is where we geeks who know about RSS come in and help out. We teach them RSS to save them time and to expand their web horizon.
There is absolutely no need to teach them the RSS spec or how it works. They only need to know how to use it.
So, how do you use RSS? First, you get a Google Reader account or the app of your choice for your platform be it PC, Mac, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc. All of these platforms have fairly good RSS readers and if you’re a geek you already know about them. I chose Google Reader because a) many people have a Gmail account and so those account credentials already work, b) Google Reader syncs with a lot of applications should they ever mature to using an app.
Side note: I use Reeder on my iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Love!
Last night I taught my wife Eliza how to use RSS. She complained to me that she “only visits a few different websites” (which is what spurned this post) and within 5 minutes we had her an account on Google Reader with a few RSS feeds “subscribed”.
By the way, Google Reader makes subscribing to websites pretty easy. Just copy and paste the website URL in to the “Add Subscription” box. No need to know the RSS feed URL (for most sites). This makes the learning curve not-so-steep.
So, pass this on. Find someone that you think could benefit, as you no doubt have, from using RSS on a daily basis – sit down with them and teach them the ropes. RSS isn’t dead, we just don’t talk about it enough anymore.