Why RSS Still Isn’t Mainstream

I’ve been talking about RSS for like 5 years now and it seems like the adoption rate is still painfully slow. Brian writes:

When I first started Copyblogger, I was a huge RSS evangelist. Over two years later, email is still very much alive. That fact is most evident with my other projects, but even here at Copyblogger over 6,000 people subscribe by email and they tend to be the most responsive.

I think the huge hurdle is still terminology.

We called them RSS, then XML feeds, then newsfeeds then feeds then suddenly Atom came along and the format wars began, egos got involved and everything  and then you had aggregators and feed readers and firehose and river-of-news and it all degraded far away from the whole point of feeds in the first place:

Monitor things that are important to you in one place.

We still use terminology to ghetto-ize our technologies from the normal ‘real’ people who could be using them. I hate the term ‘blogosphere’ – it is one more way to separate blogs and make them alien. I hate that we call them ‘tags’ instead of keywords since it has taken years to get people to undestand that keywords are ‘what you done typed in that there box’ – that makes no sense to a normal person.

Trying to explain feeds you first have to ask:

Do you know what a Tivo is? (No.) Okay, do you use My Yahoo!’s custom news page? (I don’t know.) Do you use My AOL (No, I use Internet Explorer.). Well you have this aggregator and it sits on your computer well sometimes it can be on your browser too but it can also be in your system tray but then again it might also just be in your Microsoft Outlook.

That is why I’ve always described an aggregator as such:

It is like having a personal research assistant chained in your basement that is constantly checking your favorite websites and updates and is always ready to give you the most recent updates. And if they are really good they’ll even put the lotion in the basket.

I think we shouldn’t even talk about aggregators or feed readers. Just talk about ‘Add this to your Google Homepage’ or ‘Add this to Your My Yahoo!’ page.

The real truth, I think, is that most people simply don’t want that much information fucking up their day.

Just like with bad copywriting – we focus so much on features features features and not benefits. We are transfixed by our amazing technology. How does it help people? Real people.






6 responses to “Why RSS Still Isn’t Mainstream”

  1. linkerjpatrick Avatar

    I think the technology creators put out the geeky names way too fast without thinking about the users. Even though I love RSS, blogs and Podcasts I hate those terms.
    RSS doesn’t say anything and even the meaning of the intials have different meanings. Blogging sounds like something you do in a swamp or a blog sounds like a place where a cow has taken a dump.
    RSS would be better adopted if it wasn’t called, RSS. E-mail is still the most popular tech even among those who are not tech savvy and one reason is the name and concept is user friendly.

  2. MarketingTwins-Randy Avatar

    Very helpful. But because of your use of the F word, I can’t link to this article. That’s just me. Sorry. I wish I could because it makes sense and explains a lot. Still have you on my RSS feed though.

  3. Ayn Elise Avatar
    Ayn Elise

    I believe that a great many industry people have no clue how not to speak in tech-related jargon that many people do not understand. Therefore, as is natural, many people just don’t deal with what they don’t get. So in that sense, nope they don’t want tech. to f-up anything they are doing. When the feeds are offered for the ” homepage, they are alive and present on the homepage. However, when offered in the other form, they just sit hidden and forgot gotten under the Feeds category. That’s my beef with RSS.

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