Rumours of RSS's demise are greatly exaggerated

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

So, I missed that whole “RSS is dead, I tell you! Dead! DEAD!” meme that made the rounds a few weeks ago, by virtue of being on holiday. I’m glad, frankly, because attention-grabbing link bait by tech bloggers in pretty low down on my list of “favourite types of blog post”.

But a discussion this morning with Patrick Smith and Paul Hood reminded me of it, and my initial reaction before I ignored the whole business: “Nonsense; I’m using RSS more than I ever did”. I’m actually adding to the number of feeds I subscribe to, and not reducing them. And here’s why:

feeder sharing

That’s Reeder on my iPad. The iPad has completely changed my attitude to RSS, for a number of reasons:

  1. A tablet is a way better form factor for reading blog posts and news articles than a computer screen ever was. I can sit back and enjoy a good read.
  2. Flicking between posts on a touch screen is far more satisfying than clicking with a mouse or hitting a keyboard key.
  3. The sharing options for the new generation of RSS readers that jostle for attention in the app store are intuitive and very useful. Anything I find interesting can be pushed to Twitter or Facebook for sharing with my friends, stored in Instapaper for later reading, mailed to family members, or to myself, if I want to blog about it later.
  4. Syncing through Google Reader means I can keep up with my feeds on my phone, on my iPad, in my desktop RSS software or on the web.

It’s an essential part of my job to keep on top of the latest trends in publishing and publishing technology, and the RSS/iPad combination has not just made this easier, it’s made it a damn sight more pleasurable, too.

I doubt that RSS reading in this form will ever be a truly mainstream activity. For most, I think, links shared through Twitter or Facebook will be enough. But for those of us who are committed infovores through inclination or professional necessity, the experience of feed reading is just getting better and better right now.


Adam Tinworth Twitter

Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.