RSS and RSS Readers Are Alive and Well

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There's been a wave of Twitter and Facebook posts over the past couple of days that RSS and RSS readers are dying. Whenever this happens -- it isn't new -- my stomach gets a little uneasy because I've spent years building out a massive Google Reader feed (seriously, they should hire me as a spokesperson) that I am logged in to for approximately 14 hours a day. Over at GigaOm, Mathew Ingram makes the case that RSS feeds are about as dead as the web, which is to say not at all; how they are being used and implemented is just shifting.

In the same way, RSS has become a crucial part of how web content gets fed from blogs and other sites into real-time services such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as aggregation apps like Flipboard, as CEO Mike McCue noted during the debate between Winer and TechCrunch. Do Twitter and Facebook compete with RSS to some extent, in terms of content discovery? Sure they do -- but they also benefit from it. Along with real-time publishing tools such as Pubsubhubbub, RSS is one of the things that provides a foundation for the apps and services we see all around us, including real-time search (and plenty of people still use RSS readers, says venture capital blogger Fred Wilson).

The fact that RSS may be fading in terms of mainstream user awareness is actually a good thing rather than a bad one. The sooner people can forget about it because it just works in the background, the better off we'll all be -- in the same way many of us have forgotten (if we ever knew) how the internal-combustion engine works, because we no longer have to pull over and fix them ourselves.

Read the full story at GigaOm.

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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