Why We Can't Allow RSS to Die

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It's fair to say that Really Simple Syndication (RSS) technology, which allows us to keep up with our favorite news outlets through web feeds stored in RSS readers, rarely rouses the passions.

But Kroc Camen, a UK-based web designer, is distraught about RSS becoming increasingly marginalized as browser vendors respond to weak adoption. Google Chrome has no RSS reader, Camen explains, and Mozilla's Firefox 4.0 won't include an RSS button on its toolbar by default.

Camen argues that low RSS usage is a result of unimaginative design and an obscure RSS icon, not disinterest. "If RSS were easier (or even automatic) to discover and use," Camen contends, it would save users "hours browsing every day!"

Why is neglecting RSS a problem, you ask?

A regular user understands Facebook and Twitter better than they understand RSS, and when browser vendors push RSS so far to the sidelines, companies will respond by replacing RSS with Twitter and Facebook accounts.

If RSS isn't saved now, if browser vendors don't realise the potential of RSS to save users a whole bunch of time and make the web better for them, then the alternative is that I will have to have a Facebook account, or a Twitter account, or some such corporate-controlled identity, where I have to "Like" or "Follow" every website’s partner account that I'm interested in, and then have to deal with the privacy violations and problems related with corporate-owned identity owning a list of every website I’m interested in (and wanting to monetise that list), and they, and every website I'm interested in, knowing every other website I’m interested in following, and then I have to log in and check this corporate owned identity every day in order to find out what's new on other websites, whilst I'm advertised to, because they are only interested in making the biggest and the best walled garden that I can't leave.

The full post includes a response from a Mozilla representative, who says there has never been an RSS button in the Firefox toolbar and that Mozilla is actually improving its design of RSS.

(h/t: Felix Salmon at Reuters)

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.