The RSS Blog

News and commentary from the RSS and OPML community.

Jeff Nolan wrote an interesting article title "Is Twitter Killing RSS?" I want to respond and decided to respond here on The RSS Weblog, rather than in Jeff's comments, as I'd like everybody to read this follow-up.

RSS is a protocol and Twitter is an application. Many publishers are using RSS-to-Twitter gateways to update their Twitter account when new items are publiched on their blog. The protocol and application are not competitive at all. In fact, they are complimentary. Twitter is not an RSS-killer, but rather a use-case for RSS.

Further, Twitter not only can import RSS, but it exposes an RSS feed so that you can inject your Twitter data into other applications. Many social websites are trying to import your Twitter updates. That RSS feed is likely the easiest way to do exactly that. Hmmm! Must play.

Last, could Twitter replace RSS for audience acquisition (as Jeff suggests)? Of course it could for some publishers, but it'd be a bad idea. Remember that Twitter is mostly used by us geeks. Most people are not trying to target geeks, but rather are targeting people like my wife, kids, parents, brothers and sisters. Not one of them have any clue what Twitter is and obviously don't use it. On the other hand, many of them are using RSS even though they really don't know what RSS is. That's because RSS is a protocol (under the hood). Twitter is just an application. Someday, the geeks will get bored with Twitter and move on. RSS is a protocol of the Web and it's not going anywhere.

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I get the whole app vs. protocol argument but to use your argument about geeks against you, this is speaking geek. The protocol issue only matters in the context of applications that rely on the protocol and outside of reader clients or apps that mimic reader apps but with a better user experience.

I think it's also time to put the "twitter is used by geeks" argument to bed. When one of the founders of twitter is being interviewed on the Daily Show, every cable news outlet is pimping their twitter profile, and the NYTimes is writing about it, well it is pretty much as mainstream as you can be at that point. Twitter is easily ahead of Facebook in terms of where FB was at a similar point in the lifecycle.

RSS isn't going anywhere but as I tried to articulate in my post, for a very specific use case for a very big distributor of content, professional publishers and content owners, there is little reason to re-invest in RSS when client app penetration is so low and Twitter offers a more compelling brand management platform.

My Wife, kids, brother, sisters, mothers, dads, cousins, friends, etc. most all know what Facebook is and use it. Few of them have ever heard of Twitter and none of them use it. Is it truly different in your family?


yeah, I'm finding a very high level of awareness, which is amazing considering that Twitter didn't even exist 3 years ago and now Barack Obama has 3/4 million followers.

I wonder how many of the 3/4 million followers are bots?
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