Are RSS newsreaders such a good idea?
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a way for weblogs to tell the world of new items added to them.
RSS can enable other sites to collect information about items posted in many weblogs, process it and publish it back in useful ways, like Weblogs.com, Technorati and Feedster.
People who read many weblogs can use an RSS newsreader that will collect the news from the RSS files of weblogs to one "place" on their desktop. The interface of RSS aggregators look quite similar to Email programs.
Web sites are pull mode. People come to them to read.
Email is push mode. Information is sent to people.
RSS newsreaders bridge the gap between the web and Email. They enables web content to be pushed to the desktop of its subscribers.
Unlike Email, people who use RSS newsreaders choose what RSS feeds to subscribe to. But once they have chosen to read a feed, or to be aware of new items in a feed, they have to make the choice of reading the item or to ignore it. They cannot ignore the fact that a new item has been published, unless they unsubscribe from the feed completely.
Do we need more Email?
I have created an RSS feed for a weblog that deals with publishing weblogs in Hebrew. There are some issues regarding the mix of character sets and the bi-directionality of Hebrew that should be taken care of. Finding an RSS reader that can display RSS feeds in Hebrew is a hard task. I haven't found one yet.
While developing the feed and testing different readers I thought about the whole idea and I think I have reached a personal conclusion. I think I don't want to use an RSS reader. I want to choose when to go a website to find if there is new content. I want to make my own decisions on when to go to a web site.
The fact that a technology is possible doesn't mean it's a good idea to use it. I don't want do be more distracted than I already am.
p.s. Jeffrey Zeldman says ditto (well, sort of).
People who have read this page also read:
"Why I don't write a personal weblog"
People are more important than computers.