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RSS Backlash?

© September 2003 Tony Lawrence

Infoworld has a story titled Inside baseball: the RSS backlash.

I don't see any "backlash" in any of that.

I see a complaint that too many Blogs lack original content, a complaint that some write too much about RSS or blogging, and the observation that your average Joe doesn't understand why he would use RSS at all.

Original Content

The first is completely unrelated to RSS, and is just a fact of life on the web: Blogs and non-blogs all over the place often duplicate content found elsewhere. So what? Sometimes I find something at another site that is the seed for a comment that I make at my own site, and on it goes - just like this. Are we all supposed to only comment at the original source - which might not even have a facility for making comments?

It's true that too many sites just duplicate How-To's and rpm lists or simply stream RSS feeds from other sites; that's actually a more realistic complaint than to carp about people commenting on the same or similar news items. Commenting IS what Blogs are about. I read (or, more accurately, scan through RSS) quite a few blogs and news sites. I do see duplication of content, but most of what I read has added value, and if it doesn't - well, I just delete it from my channel lists.

Inside Baseball

That some people write too much about RSS or blogging itself is a given. I write too much about Unix, and Linux Today writes too many Linux stories, and MacFixit seems stuck on Mac topics. So? Isn't that what we are supposed to be doing?

Joe doesn't get it

As to our average Joe who doesn't see the benefit of RSS, my feeling is: give it time. We spend most of our summer at a resort community, where for years there has been an opt-in address list maintained for people who want to keep in touch over the winter. Eight years ago I suggested adding email to that list, and was met with blank stares. Almost no one even HAD a computer, never mind an internet connection. Today, almost everyone who wondered why I suggested it then has an email address on that list.

I think the same will happen with RSS when it is built in to browsers and people just fall into it. Right now it's something most people have to download and either run separately or add to their browser. People don't do that for things they don't yet grok. When their browser already has RSS capabilities, when it recognizes automatically to save an RSS bookmark in the RSS section, they'll start using it. Until then, most folks just won't. That's OK too: all of our friends who didn't have email eight years ago didn't know what they were missing, but they do now, right?

© September 2003 Tony Lawrence All rights reserved

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