Strong opinions, weakly held

RSS readers are for professionals

A lot of people are wondering about the relevance of RSS readers these days. These days, there are lots of ways to maintain a healthy flow of inbound information. Twitter is perhaps the hottest, but there are plenty of other options as well. And so a lot of people are wondering about the old standby — subscribing to feeds in an RSS reader. Read Write Web had a post this week, RSS Reader Market in Disarray, Continues to Decline. Dave Winer has taken the time to point out (again) that the river of news model is right, and the email client model is wrong.

And then this morning, I read the following in the Patrick Appel interview that I linked to in my previous post:

I get up around 8 am, check Memeorandum, and skim new items in my RSS reader until about 10 am. As I’m reading, I open around fifty posts in tabs for closer inspection. I then read through those tabs, delete most of them, and draft the best. According to Google Reader, I have 1,086 blogs in my RSS reader and have read 16,070 posts in the last 30 days. This is down from a high of about 32,000 posts during the height of the election.

If you’re a serious consumer of information from a wide variety of sites, there’s still no substitute for subscribing to feeds in an RSS reader. Twitter is great, but it’s not the same. And I think that’s particularly true if you’re a blogger. If you’re just linking to the stuff that people are all talking about on Twitter or that floats to the top of Hacker News, you may as well give up on your blog, as far as I’m concerned. Everybody already sees that stuff. You have to dig deeper to offer more interesting information, and an RSS reader is the best tool you can use for that purpose.


  1. Tech Journalists need to keep track of a broad topic (‘technology’), need to know only the key points, and need to know as soon as it happens. That leads them to Twitter.

    Techies, on the other hand, are interested in a specific subset of technology, really care about the details, and care much less about timeliness. That leads to blogs, and hence a feed reader.

    I expect most articles on the supposed decline of RSS/Atom are written by tech journalists, or other high level observers, not by those in the trenches.

  2. They can have my Bloglines when they take it from my cold, dead, rigor-mortis-ridden fingers.

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